By Jessica Meditz
While many 11-year-olds may be interested in partaking in the latest TikTok challenge, Forest Hills’ own Alexandra (Alexa) Phung enjoys her greatest passion in the great outdoors.
Phung, 11, has qualified for the 2023 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, after previously competing there in 2019 and 2020.
A native of Forest Hills and now living in Boca Raton, Florida, Alexa, along with the entire Phung family, are dedicated to golfing.
Phung began golfing at the age of five after becoming inspired by her older sister, Amelie.
“My sister also played golf, so my dad thought it would be really cool if we played golf together and enjoyed the game as sisters,” she said. “I mainly learned from my dad when I was younger, and I would just self-learn by watching my sister play. We have fun together.”
Amelie Phung was also a National Finalist, and the two sisters drive each other to be better through healthy competition.
Phung said that qualifying for the Augusta Nationals is no easy feat.
In order to do so, golfers must complete three stages, where they are evaluated for how long their drive is, how close they can chip to the pin and how close they can putt.
In total, 80 children across different age groups participate in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals – 40 boys and 40 girls.
Alexa’s father, Tam Phung, feels extremely proud of his daughter for her achievements, and is excited to travel to Augusta once again.
“It’s actually an international competition as well because Canadians participate. You have probably over 100,000 kids that compete and she’s one of 80 that made it to Augusta National, so I’m very proud,” he said. “It will be her third trip back, so that makes it even more special. I think she’s one of the few that have come back a third time.”
Phung has gone on to win both national and international championships as a young athlete, taking home trophies at the Champion of Champions in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, the World Junior Challenge in Palm Harbor, Florida and the Doral Publix Junior Golf Classic in Doral, Florida.
When she’s not golfing, Phung enjoys fishing, playing chess, robotics, programming and tutoring STEM.
But one thing that took some getting used to in terms of her golfing journey is interacting with her fans.
The Phung family will host a group of senior citizens and golf enthusiasts – all of whom have become supporters of Alexa’s – at this year’s Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National.
“I feel very supported, and I’m always just trying to play my best for them,” Phung said.
Given her young age, Phung is unsure at this time whether she’d like to pursue golf professionally, but would like to play college golf once she gets older.
The 2023 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals will take place on April 2. It will be streamed live on the Golf Channel, so that fans from Forest Hills can support her from far away.