This week, 14-year-old Andy Zhang made headlines and turned heads in professional golf when he became the youngest competitor in to play in the U.S. Open since World War II: At Age 14, Making History in Making the Field.
Originally from China, Zhang moved to the United States at 10 years old to play golf, and currently resides in Florida. He entered the week as a second alternate, and suddenly found himself qualifying to play at the Olympic Club when two other players withdrew with injuries.
Zhang was introduced to the game at 6 1/2 by his father, a recreational golfer who shoots in the high 90s. At the two-tiered driving range in Beijing where Zhang's father took him, a South Korean coach, An Qi Huan, happened to see Zhang's first swings. He told his father that Zhang had talent and offered to work with him. "If he hadn't been there that day, I would not be here," Zhang said. "I would still be in China going to school every day."Crazy place to find yourself in, considering the kid is still wearing braces. He's young (the oldest competitor is 53), and has a lot to learn. But he's off to a promising start. More here: Zhang, 14, youngest Open golfer since WWII.
At 10, Zhang traveled to the United States to participate in two junior tournaments and was transfixed by the quality and sheer number of courses. "I liked it a lot," he said. "In China you don't ever get to hit range balls off real grass. You have to hit it on a mat." He added, "Golf hasn't developed too much in China. It's not really as good as here."