Bling makes it to national finals

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Bling makes it to national finalsNative son Devon Bling captured the eyes of the nation, and the hearts of his hometown, when he advanced to the finals of the U.S. Amateur Championship golf tournament in Pebble Beach this weekend.

The 18-year-old student at University of California, Los Angeles, dominated local Facebook feeds (getting shoutouts from local, regional and state elected officials) as well as national headlines for his meteoric rise to the finals. After he beat the 2017 champion Noah Goodwin earlier in the tournament, the final round between him and Viktor Hovland of Norway was touted as a “Devon vs. Goliath” matchup.

Although Hovland ultimately prevailed, Devon’s performance qualified him to compete in both the Masters and the U.S. Open next year.

The News Review caught up with the Burroughs High School alum earlier this week to talk about his experience.

“Everyone in Ridgecrest has shown their support to me, and knowing that I have that keeps me going,” said Bling. “It is definitely a bonus to have an entire town rooting for you. It’s a special feeling.”

Bling attended local schools, and earned distinction at a very young age for his natural ability and impeccable work ethic. He finished his four-year career at BHS with three Player of the Year awards in the league. He had only two junior amateur appearances under his belt before competing in last weekend’s tournament.

In Pebble Beach, he dedicated his performance to his mother, Sarah, who died in 2013. Leading up to her unexpected death at age 45, Sarah was well known throughout scholastic and athletic circles for her dedication to her sons Devon and Dillon, age 16.

“My mom, as you know, passed away, but in my heart she still continues to push me to be better.”

Bling said he knew it was necessary to trust in his game in order to compete against the best players in the world. “I went there to play my game and test my game against the golf course. Doing that to the best of my ability, everything else fell into place.”

He acknowledged that both talent and hard work played a part in his success.

“Ever since I was little I have loved the game of golf, and I was very coordinated to the point where I could naturally hit the ball from the beginning,” he said. “I always work extremely hard so that when a high-pressure situation arises, I rely on my natural skill, God-given talent and my golf game to get me through.”

This tournament is just the beginning for him. “I will continue to work harder and harder so I am able to get more opportunities like this. I have a college season ahead of me with my UCLA family that I’m looking forward to, so I will be focusing on getting a national championship.”

He added that, in terms of his education, academics are still very important to him. “No matter what happens in my golf career, I’m looking forward to pursuing a degree from UCLA.” He lists business economics as his major on his student profile.

Bling has a long list of people he thanked for their support over the years. Next to his mother, he credits his father, Nick, for teaching him the game — reportedly starting when Devon was only 18 months old. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.” He also thanked his brother, for never missing a tournament and always pushing him toward improvement.

Roland Reese coached him when his father was busy, and swing coach Chris Mayson helped him fine-tone his game. “My UCLA coaches [taught] me many other game-time strategies that have been very vital to my success.”

He also thanked Ryan Ressa and Taylormade for equipping him and Adidas for outfitting him.

“My Ridgecrest family have always been there to support me through everything. But everyone I have named has been there through the good and the bad and has always been there to push me and support me. I couldn’t have done what I did without them. It is an honor to have that support.”

Story First Published: 2018-08-24