The toughest test for most 14-year-olds is working out which GCSEs require the least amount of work. But Andy Zhang is preparing for an advanced A level test against Tiger Woods and the world’s finest golfers in the 112th US Open.

The teenager was born in Beijing but came to the States when he was 10 and now lives in Florida. On Thursday he will become the youngest competitor in a major since Young Tom Morris was a month younger than him when he played in the Open Championship in 1865.

Zhang won his place as an alternate and has Paul Casey to thank after the Englishman withdrew with a shoulder injury. “When I got the call, my mind just went blank,” Zhang said. “Then, I said Wait! What? I am in the U.S. Open?”

Zhang was the talk of San Francisco’s Olympic Club. But there was also debate about whether he is too young to be thrown into top class sport with the big boys.

Tiger Woods was all for giving the kid his chance. “He qualified. He earned a spot. I tried it when I was 15,” Woods said.

“Just think about the experience he’s going to gain playing in this event. How well that’s going to serve him playing junior events and high school events.”

Woods also said Zhang is a glimpse of the future and technology has played its part in honing golf swings.

“With video cameras and slowmo people can imitate and slow it down,” Woods said. “I grew up in an era of VHS and you always had to adjust the tracking. So you never really got the
exact positioning.

These kids are bringing iPads to the range and watching their swing and breaking it down. Like (Ben) Hogan said, if he had a video camera the changes would happen so much faster. 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. They come out and they have perfect golf swings. That’s the new generation.”

Last year, Rory McIlroy became the youngest US Open champion for 90 years. This year, even the 23-year-old Northern Irishman will be feeling his age.

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