Nathan Chuwait is on a roll. With the high school season barely begun, the Thomas Jefferson junior has all but staked his claim as the region’s top golfer with some remarkable performances on the American Junior Golf Association tour this summer.
Chuwait closed a solid month of July with a runner-up finish at the Virginia State Golf Association Junior Championship in Williamsburg, then followed that up with a four-shot victory over a 107-man field at the JoS. A Bank/David Leadbetter Junior Championship to earn his first American Junior Golf Association title the following week in Maryland.
On Monday, the 16-year-old opened his junior season with a 3-under par 69 at Pleasant Valley Golf Club to earn medalist honors at the area’s first big high school tournament of the year.
Chuwait answered questions for the Fairfax Times about the upcoming season.
Times: You’ve won the last two events you’ve played in, going a combined 4-under par in your last four rounds. Would you say you’re playing better than ever before? What’s been the key to your consistency as of late?
Chuwait: I am very happy with where my golf game is at right now. I am definitely playing very well and am proud of the results lately. I feel like the reason I have been playing well is because I have had a good combination between solid ball-striking and good putting. I am in a very comfortable place with my swing thanks to my swing coach, Stephen Moskal, and I am pleased that I am playing better than I was earlier this year.
Q: Your victory at the JoS. A. Bank/David Leadbetter Junior Championship last week was your first AJGA win. Where does that accomplishment rank among your golfing achievements to this point?
A: The win last week was definitely the biggest win of my career so far. It felt great to be able to put together three solid rounds and win at that level of competition.
Q: You began that event with a 6-under par 65 to end Day 1 with a comfortable 4-shot lead. What got into you that day?
A: When I shot 65 that day my iron shots were very accurate and I was able to make the putts that I needed to make. The course that we played was extremely difficult, and I was very happy that I managed to convert all of the good opportunities that I had.
Q: The previous week’s VSGA State Junior Championship saw you fire a 66 on Day 2 to enter the final round with a share of the lead. You then shot a 75 to finish one shot behind the winner. Did you look at that as a learning experience, or were you just proud to finish in second place?
A: I made a costly mistake on hole 13, and I tried to rally back when I made a birdie on 17, but unfortunately I missed my birdie putt on 18 to force a playoff. I am proud of the way I played, but I definitely would have liked to win. That tournament was also a very good learning experience for me. I learned that I truly need to be patient and that I can’t try too hard to force things. I am glad that I took what I learned from the State Junior and managed to get the win at the AJGA the following week.
Q: What was it like getting revenge on Maryland this year in the Mid-Atlantic Invitational, where you posted 71-70 to help Team Virginia win by 17 shots?
A: It was a lot of fun playing on a team event like that. Our team was very talented, and it was a great experience that I would love to play in again if I got the opportunity. I feel like our team was very focused on the task at hand and we managed to play great golf and win for Virginia.
Q: What would you say is the biggest difference in your game this year versus where it was at this point last year?
A: I feel like my putting has improved from last year, and I have better course management.
Q: Anything new in the bag this year? What’s your favorite club?
A: From last year, I got a new putter and a new driver. I love all of my clubs equally.
Q: You thrived on accuracy over distance as a 14-year-old freshman golfer. Now that you’re two years older, would you say your approach is any different?
A: Since I have gained some distance, I do not always have to hit driver off the tee, so it helps give me more accuracy.
Q: What’s your favorite course in the region and why?
A: 1757 Golf Course because it is my home course and you really need to be an accurate player to score well.
Q: What’s your outlook on TJ golf this season?
A: I am very excited for the season this year. We did lose four seniors, but I feel like we have good replacements who will be able to help the team. Our team goal is to make it back to states again this year, but we will try to take it one step at a time.
Q: Have you felt a lot of pressure this year to post outstanding results that will get college coaches’ attention? What colleges are you considering right now, and which way, if any, are you leaning?
A: I guess it has been in the back of my mind. I know that this is a very important summer for me, and I am very happy that I have managed to play well so far. I am going to keep on practicing and working hard like I have been doing so that I can keep up the good play. In terms of colleges, I am looking for a program that will allow me to compete in the highest level of college golf as well as allow me to be a high-achieving student.
Q: If you had to choose a professional field outside of golf to pursue after school, what would it be?
A: Possibly a dentist like my mom.