When Andrew Yun steps onto the tee box to start a round of golf, he likes to pick a song and keep it playing on repeat in his head. It's a common practice among golfers, helping to calm their nerves and steady their swing.
On days when the Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) senior is alone on the course with only his thoughts and his song, he'll pucker his lips to whistle the tune.
And nothing happens.
For all of Yun's talents and accomplishments, one thing that has eluded him is something so many others can do with ease. Yun simply
"I've been trying for a couple of years now," he says. "I really want to learn how to whistle, and the golf course is a good place to practice."
The art of whistling is just about the only thing Yun has trouble with on a golf course. He was rated the nation's No. 6 boys' golfer from the Class of 2009 in the American Junior Golf Association's Polo Rankings as of press time. The Stanford recruit has led Hamilton to two Class 5A, Division I team state titles. Before that, he helped Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, Wash., to a Class 4A state championship in just his freshman season.
With such a consistent record of success at the prep level, the temptation to look ahead to future opportunities would be a distraction for many high schoolers. And this is especially true for Yun, who watched one of his Hamilton
classmates, Richard Lee, turn pro in 2007 after completing just two years of high school.
But Yun has no desire to follow Lee onto the pro circuit at this point. Instead, he plans to take things one step at a time, a mature decision by one of the state's most well-respected players.
"Mentally and physically, I don't think I'm ready yet," the 5-foot-7, 150-pounder says. "High school tournaments still do a great job of preparing me. I am constantly learning something new."
This fall, Yun is looking to take home the state's ultimate prize. Despite leading teams to three state championships, he has yet to claim an individual title.
"It's clear that he will be the best player in Arizona," Hamilton coach Steve Kanner says. "I certainly hope he can do it. If he plays as well as he can play, then he always has a chance to win."
Yun has been in contention at state each of the past three years, never finishing more than three shots behind the leader and never worse than third. He has plenty of experience finishing atop the leaderboard at AJGA events, however, winning the 2006 PING Invitational and the 2008 Verizon Junior Heritage in addition to numerous other Top 10 results.
Yun's dedication to his game is primarily responsible for that success, but he also credits his family's move from Washington to Arizona
for allowing him year-round practice time in ideal conditions.
Not long after leading Bellarmine Prep to the state title as a freshman, Yun's family decided to move to a warmer climate where the young star could play nonstop and face better competition. His family settled on two warm-weather states as possible destinations: California and Arizona.
"California was too crowded," Yun says. "So we moved to Arizona."
Just a few months removed from his breakout season in Washington, Yun was taking part in Hamilton's fall golf practices. Paired with Lee, the sophomore duo led Hamilton to a four-stroke
victory at state with Yun taking third individually.
Lee then opted to forego the remainder of his high school career in hopes of trying his luck
on the pro circuit and has had some success, including an appearance at the 2007 U.S. Open. But as far as the Hamilton golf team was
concerned, the reins were officially passed to Yun last fall, and he didn't disappoint. The Huskies bested Brophy Prep by 13 shots to win state, and Yun finished second individually, two strokes behind Corona del Sol's David Logston.
"Last year, the first goal was to win as a team," Yun says. "If I had won [individually], it would have been an extra bonus. But [the second-place finish] got the job done. This year, it is definitely an individual goal of mine."
Yun has never voiced any disappointment over his past finishes and has never been shy to say that team triumphs always outshine individual glory. His coach recognizes that selflessness.
"I would think [coming close but never
winning a title] would be disappointing to many people, but not to Andrew," Kanner says. "I've never heard one word. Andrew gets it. Five years from now, I'll look back at that and say, 'Here's a kid who knew what participating in high school
athletics was all about.'"
Kanner points to Yun's leadership and work ethic as further examples of his star's maturity.
"I've never seen a high school athlete whose teammates look up to him as much as Andrew," Kanner says. "If he decides to do something in his practice routine, others will start doing it as well. Sometimes even players on other teams will do it."
Yun doesn't think of himself as the prototypical rah-rah leader, but he does appreciate the
opportunity to give back in more subtle ways.
"Part of the experience of golf is not only to get something from the game but to give
something back," Yun says. "It's not something that you hold onto yourself and be selfish about. Golf is something that you share with others."
Now if only someone would share with Yun the secret to whistling.
Christopher Parish covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com.