This is how it had to end.
Kinkaid’s Cole Hammer and John Cooper’s Ben Wong have led the charge for Houston-area golfers the last four years, so it was fitting that the two friends and rivals wrapped up their high school career with a memorable two-day battle at the SPC championship.
Hammer and Wong finished first and second after both days of the tournament, with the Texas-signee besting the SMU-signee’s 140 with a nine-under 135. It gave Hammer a second individual title in three years, compared to his counterpart’s one.
“Playing with Ben in my last high school tournament was great,” said Hammer. “That’s what we’ve done for four years now, so to come down the stretch with [him] on the last day of SPC was fun.”
Even though the players were competing for the same goal, it wasn’t like most rivalries.
Of course, they challenged each other with their heightened level of play, but what made theirs' unique was the fact that they paired up on the practice green before rounds, walked down fairways together, and helped each other find balls on the course.
They also congratulated each other after successful shots and went to lunch after day one’s action.
“We have so much fun off the golf course,” said Wong. “Obviously, we do on the golf course too. Even when we’re in contention, we’re chatting and talking about other stuff.
“Even though this is what we’re out here doing, we never forget that we’re tight and good friends.”
So, where did that comfort, joy and trust come from, when stakes are the highest?
It could be the fact that Wong has played Hammer in 99-percent of his rounds since he moved to The Woodlands. Both are used to driving the 45 minutes to see each other, so being in different college cities shouldn’t prevent their paths from crossing at upcoming tournaments and qualifiers.
“Golf tournaments are not like other sports, where you play the game and you’re out of there,” said Hammer. “You’re with the other guy, in this case Ben, for hours on end, so we formed a great friendship over the years, and it’s not going to change into college."
“He’s definitely one of my best golf friends.”
This article appears in the May issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy at any one of our locations today!