LAKEWOOOD RANCH — Kelly and Charles Sun are nothing short of competitive.
The 16-year-old twins have been competing with one another in nearly every facet of their lives for as long as they can remember.
But, there’s something about golf that elevates their competitive spirit above all else.
Every time they step out onto the green, the Suns are focused on one thing —beating the player next to them.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an opponent, a teammate, a coach or one another. There’s no room for error.
“I enjoy competing against other players and seeing who is better,” Charles says. “I’m always trying to improve.”
The Suns began playing golf when they were about 8 years old. But, the two brothers took a somewhat unconventional approach to the game. Rather than following in the footsteps of their father or heading out to the range, the Suns first went out with their friend — who just so happened to be the Chinese national champion for his age group.
“We just said, ‘Let’s go out and have fun,’ and we just decided to keep doing it,” Charles says.
Since then, the Suns have competed in roughly 15 junior tournament events every year. During a national event in China, the two brothers tied and had to face one another in playoffs. Charles ultimately won the event, much to his brother’s dismay.
Most recently, the Suns competed in the American Junior Golf Association Junior All-Star at Galloping Hill in Kenilworth, N.J., where Kelly finished the three-day tournament tied for fifth with a combined 220.
“He really tries a lot and practices pretty hard,” Charles says of his brother. “In tournaments, he’s really focused.”
The Suns joined the Lakewood Ranch High golf team as freshmen last year after moving to Florida from Pennsylvania. Their on-course experience has proven invaluable for the Mustangs.
Last season, the Suns were a part of Lakewood’s undefeated season, which resulted in the Mustangs second-consecutive state championship.
“It’s a different experience,” Kelly says. “It’s something you can’t really miss out on. High school is one of the only times you get to play golf as a team.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” Charles says. “You don’t have as much pressure. When you’re playing by yourself, you give yourself a lot of pressure if you do bad, but, when you’re on a team, your teammates are counting on you. You’re not playing as an individual. You’re playing for the team.”
This season, Kelly and Charles have helped lead Lakewood to a 57-1 record, having competed in all of the Mustangs’ tournaments so far this season.
On Sept. 16, Kelly finished 2-under par to win the rain-shortened Outback Invitational in Oldsmar.
“All of the guys have enjoyed having them on the team,” Lakewood coach Dave Frantz says. “Last year they added a great deal of depth to our lineup, and this year they are one-third of our starting lineup every tournament.
“They are a joy for me to coach,” Frantz says. “I truly marvel every day how lucky I am to be their shifu (teacher).”
Now, Kelly and Charles, who both have aspirations of playing collegiate golf one day, are focused on helping lead the Mustangs back to the state tournament in hopes of capturing a historic third-consecutive state championship.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].