Chance Wilson wins at US Kids Golf Maui series

  • Photo courtesy Liane Wilson

    Chance Wilson, 12, receives his award from tournament director Renee Lee during the US Kids Golf Maui Local Tour Championship at the Maui Country Club on May 18.

  • Nick Celario / The Garden Island

    Chance Wilson, 12, stops for a photo Wednesday at the Princeville Makai Golf Club.

PRINCEVILLE — Local youth golf player Chance Wilson aims to one day play in the PGA Tour. He may have just taken his first step toward playing among golf’s elite.

“I’ve been playing events here and there with Kauai Junior Golf. I decided ultimately to try and go toward my end-goal of being on the PGA Tour,” Wilson said during practice at the Princeville Makai Golf Club. “Coming up on this year, I realized that I need to get in more higher-stakes tournaments. So this year, I stared to get a little more serious about it.”

Wilson, 12, of Princeville, recently won his age group of the US Kids Golf Maui Local Tour, a series of six golf tournaments that began April 6 and ended May 18.

Wilson placed first in a majority of the tournaments to clinch his age group in the series.

In the Tour Championship at the Maui Country Club a couple of weekends ago, Wilson shot a 10-over-par 82 to place first. Christopher Salem of Lahaina was the runner-up after shooting a 21-over-par 93.

“First series win. That’s kind of a big deal,” Wilson said. “Just seeing the different level of competition, it’s totally different. It’s a completely different ball game when you have a lot better kids. You just have to focus on your game and try to shoot the best score you can shoot. … Just trying to get better and better every day. But, yeah, I’m pretty pleased with how the Maui spring tour went.”

When asked who were some pro golfers he looked up to, two came to mind.

“I really like Rory McIlroy. I think he’s a great guy and a great player,” Wilson said. “And, Dustin Johnson. He’s been No. 1 in the world.”

Wilson has been playing for about three years and started playing in tournaments about a year ago. He said his interest in golf was initiated after finding his father’s clubs.

“I tried a bunch of other sports, and it never really caught on. One day, I was up in the attic and I saw my dad’s old golf clubs,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh, what’s that?’ He said, ‘It’s golf. I’ll take you to the driving range and you can try it.’ The first shot I ever hit with it, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is the sport I want to play.’ I’ve been pretty much hooked.”

The youth now practices four to five days a week and typically spends hours at his home course, the Princeville Makai Golf Club.

“I went from one day a week. I had a weekly game. Then, I went to three days. Then, four days,” Wilson said. “I was just like, ‘I need to play every day.’ Now, I’m playing every single day.”

The Kauai youth will compete in his next tour this summer. The US Kids Golf Oahu Local Tour begins Sunday at the Kapolei Golf Course.

“I definitely took away a lot of experience from the Maui tournament. That’s the main thing — getting more experience and getting in more competitive situations,” Wilson said. “Now going toward Oahu, I’ll be going against boys that are in the 13-14 division. Even though I’m in the 12 (division), it’s because of my birthdate and when the cutoff date is. So, that’s going to be even more competitive, which I’m very excited for.”

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Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or ncelario@thegardenisland.com.

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