Jeneath Wong first started playing golf with two gloves around age 7 for one simple reason: Her right hand hurt. The extra glove took away the pain, and the petite player known as “Pocket Dynamite” has been doubling up on gloves ever since.
“I see my friends, and their left hand is pale,” said Wong with a laugh, when asked about the added benefits of playing with two gloves.
A two-time Australian Girls Amateur champion, 18-year-old Wong is one of 37 first-time participants in the field at this week’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur. The tournament gets underway at Champions Retreat Golf Club on March 29, where the first two rounds will be played on the Island and Bluff nines. The top 30 players and ties will advance to Saturday’s final round, held over Augusta National. A practice round for all 72 participants is held on Friday at Augusta National after the cut is made.
Story coming soon on @WavesGolf’s Jeneath Wong, a prolific winner in the @anwagolf field who plays with two gloves and looks at the hole when she putts. Nickname is Pocket Dynamite! pic.twitter.com/nMYPteAyCc
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) March 28, 2023
Wong, currently No. 47 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, represents Malaysia but attended high school in Melbourne, Australia, where she’s been a prolific winner, twice claiming the Victorian Junior Masters and three-peating as the Victoria Junior Amateur champion from 2020-2022.
With graduation wrapping up in November, Wong decided to begin her freshman year at Pepperdine this spring. The transition from high school to college didn’t go as smoothly as she would’ve liked, however, as she tripped during rehearsal for an awards night at Glen Waverley Secondary College and tore two ligaments in her ankle. She was still on crutches a week before coming over to Pepperdine in January.
Wong said she chose the Malibu school for its close-knit community and her connection to longtime head coach Laurie Gibbs, whose former All-Americans include Danielle Kang, Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright.
A fast player who often skips practice swings when the pace allows during casual rounds, Wong learned the game from her father, Kenneth, who she estimates at about a 12 handicap when he played in Malaysia.
It was Kenneth who taught her to look at the hole rather than the ball for longer putts to better gauge the distance. She also noted, with a good-natured laugh, that her father tends to hit the ground or miss the ball when he tries the technique.
Gibbs said Wong adapted quickly to college life, calling her a natural player whose excellent hand-eye coordination allows her to be consistent in every part of her game. As for some of Wong’s unique approaches, Gibbs notes that the results speak loudly.
“She doesn’t make excuses,” said Gibbs, “and has a personality that is perfect to compete against the best golfers at every level and win.”
While the rest of her team is in Hawaii this week for the Avenue Spring Break Classic, Wong gears up for what will surely be the first of several showings at Augusta National. She plans to major in psychology and is on pace to graduate in three-and-a-half years. She’ll no doubt be a favorite at this year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior as she’ll still be 18.
The 5-foot-1-inch Wong was fitted for a new set of Callaway Paradym irons in Carlsbad, California, shortly after arriving at Pepperdine and reports a higher ball flight and added distance. Wong finished third and fourth in her last two collegiate starts.
“My Australian idol is Hannah Green,” said Wong of the KPMG Women’s PGA winner. “Apparently, she knows of me.”
After this week at Augusta, chances are many more can say the same.