Fourteen-year-old amateur Andy Zhang, originally from China, will become the youngest ever competitor to play at the U.S. Open golf tournament, when it begins this weekend, according to organizers.
After shooting rounds of 70 and 72 in a Florida sectional qualifier on June 4th, Zhang had earned the first alternate position, meaning if before the tournament started, anyone already qualified had to drop out, Zhang would be able to compete.
That happened on Monday when PGA pro Paul Casey withdrew due to a shoulder injury.
“(When I got the call), my mind just went blank,” said Zhang. “Then, I said “Wait! What? I am in the US Open?”
Considered one of pro golf’s four annual major’s, this years U.S. Open will be played at the Olympic Club in San Francisco starting this Thursday and concluding on Fathers Day, Sunday. The previous record holder of youngest golfer to make the U.S. Open had belonged to 15-year-old Tadd Fujikawa, who competed in 2006 at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.
Zhang, who now makes a home in Reunion, Florida, has already arrived at Oylmpic Club to prepare, and when he was shown to his locker, he asked the official, if the whole locker was his.
The whole thing?” Zhang asked. “This whole locker is mine?”
Zhang then got star struck when he locked at the lockers around his, that had the names of Tim Clark, K.J. Choi, Alex Cejka and major winner Stewart Cink, etched into them.
Later, Zhang had described how is father advised him and his mother to go to San Francisco, and be ready, though he likely won’t get in, before he left for China two days ago.
While starring down a spread of Snickers Bars and sandwiches, Zhang said, “He’ll be following me on TV, I guess.” The quickly asked, “I can take one of these? Really?”
The prize purse is $8 million dollars, and will see Tiger Woods, Phil Michelson, and recent Masters winner, Bubba Watson paired together in the same threesome for the first two days. Though amateurs are not permitted to recieve any prize money, if Zhang were to somehow pull off a win he would be crowned the champion and recieve the winning trophy.
Zhang was scheduled for a 7am practice round Tuesday morning with, Watson and Aaron Baddeley.