Who is the youngest golfer to compete at the US Open?
The youngest golfer to ever compete in the US Open is 14-year-old Andy Zhang. He participated in the 2012 US Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, CA. The next could be 13-year-old Jaden Soong.
Andy Zhang, a 25-year-old professional golfer, captured the world’s attention with his exceptional talent and youth when he first entered the golfing public eye. However, he grew up in Beijing, China; Zhang’s passion for golf blossomed at a young age when he picked up his first set of clubs at just six years old. He was introduced to the sport at the tender age of 6 by his father, an avid recreational golfer. During a visit to a two-tiered driving range in Beijing, Zhang’s father’s decision would lead to an encounter that would shape his son’s future.
On that fateful day, a South Korean coach named An Qi Huan happened to witness Zhang’s first swings. Recognizing the raw talent displayed by the young golfer, Huan approached Zhang’s father and offered to guide and train Zhang on his journey. Looking back, Zhang reflects on this fortuitous encounter’s pivotal role in his life, remarking, “If he hadn’t been there that day, I would not be here, and I would still be in China going to school every day.”
Recognizing her son’s extraordinary abilities, Zhang’s mother took him to the United States when he was 10 years old so he could compete in tournaments and continue his training at the Leadbetter Academy in Florida. In 2012, fate intervened, and Zhang was allowed to compete in the prestigious U.S. Open when another player had to withdraw due to an injury. Zhang seized the chance and made history as one of the youngest golfers ever to compete in the championship.
“Before I got the news, I was trying to act cool,” Zhang said after finding out that he was invited to participate in the tournament. “When I found out I was in, I started screaming and gave my mom and caddie hugs. It was one of my best moments.”
Following his remarkable debut, Zhang’s star continued to rise. He committed to playing college golf for the University of Florida, choosing them over other esteemed institutions such as Oklahoma State, Texas, and Florida State. Today, as a seasoned 25-year-old golfer, Zhang is a testament to the indomitable spirit of a young prodigy who defied the odds and exceeded expectations. With a #7 ranking in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Zhang recently turned professional and is poised for further achievements and memorable moments on the fairways.
Who is Jaden Soong? The next teenage golf phenom
He is a seventh-grader, who studies at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Feliz, CA. He is currently trying to qualify for the 2023 US Open golf tournament and has had to ask for permission to miss class. “I didn’t expect to make it this far, so the next round is just learning and getting the experience. I really should be in school that day,” he was quoted saying in the Los Angeles Times.
If he manages to qualify at Hillcrest Country club, he will become the youngest player ever to compete at the US Open. “If I keep the right mentality and play the game I know, I can get close. I know I can give myself a chance,” he said.