After playing in his third tournament, a 7-year-old Edan Cui wasn’t pleased with his performance on the golf course.
“At the beginning, I got pretty frustrated, because I didn’t do very well,” the Los Altos Hills resident said. “Then I played my fourth tournament, and I won for the first time. That’s when I started realizing I was actually very good.”
Very good, indeed. Now 9, Edan has won a whopping 31 tourneys.
One of his most impressive victories came at the U.S. Kids Golf California State Invitational, held June 19 and 20 at Swenson Park Golf Club in Stockton. Edan not only won his division (Boys 9), but also posted the best score in the entire event, which featured the state’s top boys and girls ages 6-14.
“It’s one of the hardest tournaments – harder than the regional (championship) – because of the population,” said Edan, who shot a 12-under-par 132 over two rounds.
It took a dramatic finish over a previous champion for Edan to come out on top. With four holes to play, he trailed leader Aiden Tiet of Milpitas by a stroke.
One hole later, they switched spots. Edan bagged a birdie on the 15th, while Aiden had to settle for a bogey. Edan’s lead grew to two strokes after he birdied the 16th and Aiden shot par.
But on the 17th, Edan said he was “getting nervous” after he missed a birdie putt “by a few inches,” and Aiden made his to close the gap to one stroke.
Both players hit good drives on the 18th, according to Edan, but Aiden wound up with a closer putt for birdie.
“I hit my shot around 6 feet from the pin and he hit his 4 feet from it, and he’s a very good putter,” said Edan, entering the fifth grade at Bullis Charter School. “I was super nervous – I was afraid that there could be a playoff.”
After circling the hole several times and consulting with his dad, Min, on how to approach the putt, Edan took aim and swung.
“My putt went right to the edge and just looped in. When I looked, I said, ‘Oh, no!’ but then it just dropped in,” he said. “My dad was so excited that he jumped up in the air.”
And Edan’s reaction to his tourney-winning putt?
“Happy,” he said. “It was my first time winning the state.”
Edan, who has claimed two more tourney titles since then, will have several opportunities this summer to add to his collection of awards. Edan estimated that he has 10 more events to play before school starts – none bigger than the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship scheduled Aug. 3-5 at the historic Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.
“I was invited last year, too, but because it was my first time, I was nervous and didn’t do so well,” said Edan, who tied for 45th in his division.
He also suffered from heat stroke on the third day, according to his mom, Stephanie.
Stephanie and Min got Edan started in golf when he turned 6, giving him a set of clubs and lessons for his birthday.
He took to the sport right away.
“I don’t know why I liked it, but I did,” said Edan, who also enjoys swimming and woodworking. “It was just very fun, I feel.”
Edan, who can drive the ball 180 yards, works with his coach at least four days a week.
“He has a lot of talent – his coach said that, too – but I think it’s the passion and the love (that makes him so good),” Stephanie said. “It’s also the hard work, the repetition and the perseverance. Golf is a hard game – it takes lots of effort.”