When I was 14 years old, i was playing public golf courses, mostly par 3 courses in Milwaukee County.
However, Andy Zhang, who is 14, will be playing in the U.S. Open golf tournament in San Fransico this weekend.
From ESPN: When Aaron Baddeley was 14, he was a 3-handicapper and the club champion at Royal Melbourne in Australia. It would be another four years before he would win the 1999 Australian Open as an 18-year-old amateur.
At 14, Bubba Watson was just a year or two removed from hitting plastic golf balls around his house in Bagdad, Fla. Pink shafts and green jackets were a long way off.
Early Tuesday morning, Baddeley and Watson, good friends who share an agent, played with a 14-year-old kid named Andy Zhang in a practice round at Olympic Club. Zhang, who will be a high school freshman in the fall at a San Diego online school, got into the U.S. Open field when Paul Casey withdrew from the tournament, citing a shoulder injury. Zhang had been the first alternate out of the sectional qualifier at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Fla.
A native of China who came to the U.S. from Beijing when he was 10 to play golf, Zhang will become the youngest-ever participant in the U.S. Open when he tees off in Thursday's first round.
To be fair to most 14-year-olds, Zhang is not your typical kid barely into his teens. Unlike most junior golfers, he is a full-time player who manages to fit some school into an 8-10 hour day of golf.
"He's got a 24-year-old head on a 14-year-old body," said David Leadbetter, who runs his eponymous academy, where Zhang is a student under Andrew Park.
Is he the next Tiger Woods? I hope not, considering what Woods has gone through the past 4-5 years. But he certainly has the work ethic and he is a very big boy. But will the kid have much of a life with kids his age or will he just be another child athlete machine? Time will tell.
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