Chinese prodigy sign of things to come, Woods says

The march of technology and the global growth of golf will mean that 14-year-olds, like China prodigy Andy Zhang, may become commonplace in the next few years according to Tiger Woods.

The Beijing-born, but Florida-based Zhang has made history at this year's US Open at San Francisco's Olympic Club even before the tournament even gets underway.

Having narrowly failed to qualify for the year's second major, Zhang suddenly found himself propelled into the tournament due to last minute entry adjustments and injury withdrawals.

At 14 years and six months when he tees of in Thursday's opening round, Zhang will be what US Golf Association officials believe is the youngest player in US Open history and certainly the youngest since World War II.

Tadd Fujikawa, who was 15 at the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot, is the previous youngest player of the modern era.

Asked for his reaction to such a young player competing in the US Open, Tiger Woods said that technological advances were playing a key role.

"These kids are now bringing out iPads to the range and watching their swing and breaking it down on the V1 (video analysis software). That's totally different," he said.

"Like (Ben) Hogan said, if he had a video camera the changes would happen so much faster. These kids are now being introduced when they first start.

"I saw a few of these kids over in Korea that they've only been playing the game for a year.

"And six months of it was all indoors hitting golf balls. All they did was put the club in the correct position to hit balls, hit balls, hit balls, and that's it. They come out and they have perfect golf swings.

"That's the new generation. The swings are all going to look very similar, and all these kids are going to have power."

Zhang has lived in the United States since he was 10, having taken up golf at six, and he attends the IMG Golf Academy in Florida

On hearing of his lucky break in getting into the tournament, Zhang wasted no time in getting to grips with the tough layout at The Olympic Club.

He played his first practice round on Tuesday morning with Bubba Watson, and the Masters champion said he had been impressed by the youngster's game.

"It was fun talking to him. It was fun getting to know him. He was nervous, didn't talk much. Maybe I just talk too much. But it was cool," Watson said.

"Hearing the story, talking to his caddie and him about how they got in and what all happened for them to get in.

"It was fun getting to meet him and watching a talent like that.

"He's a big boy for 14, and he can hit it good. Obviously at 14 he's got a lot of growing up to do with his game. Obviously he can play.

"He's in the US Open. It's not like it just luckily happened. He played to get in here."

Zhang will have some family support in San Francisco as his mother is with him. His father, however, returned to China at the weekend thinking his son would probably remain a reserve.

He was fifth on the original list, but moved up when three players were called in after the publication of the world's top 60 earlier this week and then became first alternate when Brandt Snedeker pulled out with a rib problem.

Englishman Paul Casey's injury withdrawal on Monday finally opened the door for him to make his majors debut and US Open history.

Asked what advice he could hand out to Zhang, Rory McIlroy, a teenage prodigy himself when he turned pro at 18, found it hard to reply.

"When I was 14 I was getting prepared to play in my club championship, not the US Open, so I'm not sure I could give him any words of wisdom," he said.

"Just got to go out there and enjoy it. It's an unbelievable experience for someone so young."

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • The other side of Palawan Ellen Tordesillas, Contributor - The Inbox
    The other side of Palawan

    By Ellen T. Tordesillas Mention Palawan and what comes to mind are  Underground River and El Nido in the northern side of this richly-blessed province from its capital, Puerto Princesa. Three  weeks ago, we went to the southern side- in … Continue reading → …

  • What can void a new car warranty? James Deakin - Wheel Power
    What can void a new car warranty?

    "I was denied warranty once for changing my horn!" One very annoyed reader wrote. "I was told that placing a backup camera will void my warranty" said another. The others are best left in my private inbox as Yahoo! have a swear jar in the office that I do not feel like donating this week's pay to. Continue reading → …

  • Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources VERA Files - The Inbox
    Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources

    By Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena, VERA Files "Gutom (hunger)," Sen. Loren Legarda said is what’s in store for the Filipino people if destruction of the country's marine resources is not stopped. Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on Environment and Natural … Continue reading → …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options