Q&A with new professional Norman Xiong

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Norman Xiong of the United States team lines up a putt on the 11th hole in his match against Scott Gregory of the Great Britain and Ireland team during the afternoon singles matches in the 2017 Walker Cup at the Los Angeles Country Club on September 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images ) David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

Q&A with new professional Norman Xiong

Digital Edition

Q&A with new professional Norman Xiong

Norman Xiong has turned professional. Described by his college coach as the best talent he’s seen since Tiger Woods – and Casey Martin recently coached NCAA champion Aaron Wise – Xiong leaves Oregon after two years. The 19-year-old has signed with Callaway for his clubs and TravisMathew for his clothes. He sat down with Golfweek to share more about his plans:

Q: You grew up playing a lot of golf in the San Diego area. Tell us about that.
A: I moved from Guam to here when I was 6 years old. Grew up at the First Tee of San Diego, and I really started my junior career there.

Q: And it’s a par-3 golf course you played at Colina Park a lot?
A:  It’s a full par-3 course. The longest hole is only like 110 yards. It’s really fun. Just go out with friends and play 36 holes a day.

Q: Do you think that more people would gravitate to golf if they could grow up like you did playing a par-3 course?
A: It’s an easier way to start. Definitely for me, especially as a young kid growing up, playing a really short course. It’s easy to walk. You only need a few clubs. It’s really simple and really convenient. You can just have a lot of fun. I’d definitely like to see a lot of kids growing up and playing golf like that.

Q: You have the First Tee logo on your shirt. Tell me about how that came about.
A: I’ve definitely learned a lot from the First Tee, not only golf, but life especially, and I just hold them really, really close to my heart. Somebody actually proposed it to me, and I thought it was an awesome idea and after that, I had to get it on there.

Q: You’ll be wearing TravisMathew apparel?
A: I went to Oregon and they were a Nike school, and I’ve been with Nike for a long time, and they’ve had great stuff. Really sporty, cool looking stuff. But for clothes I just want to make sure obviously it’s comfortable and it fits right. I feel really comfortable in TravisMathew. Some of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn and also really classy, I think, and clean. I kind of wanted to shift from that kind of a sporty, athletic look to more classy and clean.

Q: You’ve signed with Callaway for clubs and ball. Tell us more about your unusual bag setup.
A: Yes, I go driver and then 2-iron, which is a really strong 2-iron. It’s like a 3-wood. I personally don’t like a 3-wood. I just haven’t been able to find one that really fits me. So that 2-iron has been a huge part of my game. And then I go from there to usually a 3-iron, 4-iron, and then four wedges.

Q: And what’s the driver?
A: Driver is Rogue 8.5 degree.

A look at some of the clubs inside Norman Xiong’s bag. (Cliff Endsley Photo)

Q: What have you been most picky about?
A: My wedges or irons. Mostly just because the driver and putter are pretty simple. I’m not too picky with anything. I can kind of adapt and get used to the clubs and ball really quickly.

Q: Have you had Callaway stuff in your bag for long?
A: Ever since Nike got out of the industry, I went from Nike straight to Callaway. I tried TaylorMade, Titleist and found that Callaway was the best fit for me. They did a great job before signing of making me feel really comfortable with all their equipment.

Q:  Are you a big stats person?
A: I never was until this last year, my sophomore year of college.  I’m a very feel player so I didn’t really think too much. But I realized that I’m competing with all these other people that are much older than me. I need to find something I really trust. Something to help find how to score and how to make sure I save shots and gain strokes. It’s more about the attitude of approaching each hole. Whether to be aggressive or when to be aggressive on which shot.

Q: You’re known for your clubhead speed. How would divvy up percentage-wise how you’ve been able to get speed?
A: I would say 50 percent I guess, training and working out, and then 50 percent my swing and my mechanics. Obviously when I was younger I was kind of chubby and then I lost all that weight. And during that time my uncle and I decided that we needed to really hit it far and gain clubhead speed. So pretty much every night we would do 10 to 15 minutes of speed-stick stretching. Just making sure that we have a swing that can generate a lot of speed.

Q: You’re going to live in Las Vegas and also do some work with Jeff Smith?
A: Yes. I’ve done two lessons with him, and the first one was obviously pretty interesting because I’d never had a coach before. That first lesson was, I guess, broadening and opening to instruction basically. The second one I thought went a lot better. We texted back and forth. I send them videos and whatnot. So he’s going to definitely help me here and there. He also does a lot of great strategy stuff and statistical analysis. So I think especially for me, as a young player going in and not really knowing the courses, I think he could really help me with his experience related to PGA Tour courses. Gwk

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