June 12 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- Aaron Baddeley looks young enough that he could practically pass for a teenager and Bubba Watson sometimes acts like one.
On Tuesday at the Olympic Club when the two good friends played a practice round prior to the U.S. Open, they were joined on the first tee by a 14-year-old -- and he wasn't there to ask for autographs, either.
Andy Zhang will be playing with the pros after nabbing a spot in the national championship when Paul Casey withdrew with a shoulder injury on Monday. The teenager is believed to be the youngest to ever play in a U.S. Open -- and definitely holds that distinction since World War II when the USGA began keeping such records.
Zhang, who will be 14 years and six months old on Thursday, is not the youngest in major championship history, though. Young Tom Morris was two months younger when he played in the British Open in 1865.
Watson came away impressed by the youngster, who came to San Francisco hoping to play with Watson, who is the reigning Masters champ.
"He's obviously a very quiet guy," Watson said. "...
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 hearing the story, talking to his caddie and him about how
they got in and what all happened for them to get in. ...
"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 U.S. Open. It's not like it just luckily happened. He can play to get here."