Lorens Chan and mom sharing special season
August 16, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Lorens Chan and his mother celebrate his first Mackenzie Tour win at the HFX Pro-Am presented by Steele Jaguar. (Courtesy of Chan)
Lorens Chan knows exactly when he hit emotional rock bottom.
It was around Christmas time, 2016. His father, Richard, had passed away earlier in the year and Chan, a celebrated junior golfer from Hawaii who found even more success at UCLA, wasn’t sure what to do next. He played the Hawaii State Open and was paired with PGA TOUR winner Dean Wilson, who had also recently lost his father.
They talked on the putting green for two hours after the round.
Chan says Wilson could see he was struggling.
“That night it was just me and my mom. We sat in the hotel room, and that was the rock-bottom moment,” says Chan, who didn’t do much for eight months after his father’s untimely passing.
“I didn’t really talk to anyone. It was just me and my mom, to ourselves.”
Chan’s father, who was responsible for getting him into the game, died in 2016 due to complications from myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disease. The whole year, Chan says, was a low point. He would travel between Hawaii, California, and Seattle – where his brother lives and where his father would eventually do his treatment – since he was set to graduate from UCLA that year, too (which he did, with a degree in economics), but golf wasn’t exactly a priority.
The hospital in Seattle was close to his brother’s home, so the family went there for Christmas vacation while Richard Chan began treatment. It felt like home, Chan says, even though it wasn’t Hawaii.
Chan tried Mackenzie Tour Q-School in 2016, but tied for 102nd. Golf was secondary. That summer he got bad news on his father’s health situation and stayed in Seattle with him for his final few weeks.
His father had a bone marrow transplant, which wasn’t successful, and that was the unfortunate catalyst for his deteriorating health and eventual death.
After the funeral in Hawaii, Chan spent a long time at home. If there were a silver lining to any of what happened over that year, it was that Chan and his mother, Linda, got incredibly close.
Although Chan admits he was probably always closer to his mom, he says they forged an even stronger bond after his father passed away.
She had always been there to support her son, but now they are quite literally in lockstep, as she’s been Chan’s caddie for the better part of two years.
It’s a unique sight, a petite woman hoofing the bag for her on-the-cusp of greatness son, but she does it without complaint – except, Chan admits, in Halifax on the weekend when it got a little too hot. “She was struggling a little bit, but she made it,” Chan said with a laugh. They’ve had great success this season, too. Chan has finished outside the top 20 only once and captured his first Mackenzie Tour title, at the HFX Pro-Am presented by Steele Jaguar.
Chan’s mother missed the first few events of the year since Chan’s brother was getting married in Hawaii. Chan was the best man and gave a speech, and Mom will likely be back on the bag for the balance of the season. She caddied for Chan while he was in high school at amateur events that allowed her to walk inside the ropes. Chan’s father, meanwhile, caddied for him just once. Lorens was 12, and he won the tournament. He says his father called it a one-and-done, and that was his claim to fame.
Chan’s mother doesn’t play golf, but she understands the sport. The extent of her role is to just clean clubs, carry the clubs and clean the ball.
“She gives me words of encouragement, but they’re more along the lines of ‘don’t do anything stupid,’ ‘play smart,’ and ‘don’t hit that dumb shot you can hit but you really shouldn’t,’” he says with a laugh.
But since professional golf can get lonely, the ongoing family support has been key. And it’s not just Chan’s blood relatives who have been supportive of him through a difficult period in his life.
After his mother, the first person to congratulate him on his win and give him a hug was Jake Knapp, a fellow UCLA alum who Chan grew up playing junior golf with in California. A brother, Chan calls him.
And then there’s the sister: Michelle Wie.
To her more than half-a-million followers on Instagram, Wie congratulated Chan on his win in Halifax, who says they’ve been close family friends for more than a decade.
Chan says they’ve known each other since he was nine, and he stayed at her place in Florida when he was trying to qualify for some Korn Ferry Tour events earlier in the year.
“She’s basically like a big sister to me,” says Chan.
But while Chan’s inner circle is supportive, growing and thrilled at his success, there’s still one piece missing.
After his father passed away, there was the question of whether he would just stop playing. Would the emotion just be too much?
It would not. Chan still wanted to play golf.
“And I knew my dad,” Chan says. “He wanted me to give golf a try.”
And try he did.
Chan is climbing up from that low point. There will always be a void he can’t fill, but with time and an increased closeness to his mother and an ever-growing support system, he is on a great path.