Junior Boys

My Year in Golf: Andy Zhang

Andy Zhang, 14, tees off at the par-4 10th hole at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Andy Zhang, 14, tees off at the par-4 10th hole at Olympic Club in San Francisco. ( Nick Masuda )

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Editor's note: Andy Zhang became the youngest player - and the first from China - to play in the U.S. Open, moving into the field on the Monday of competition week after Paul Casey withdrew due to injury. Zhang would go on to make appearances in Switzerland, Korea and Australia, while also playing in the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Junior. Needless to say, it was a historic year for the 14-year-old. He took some time to reflect on his year with this "My Year in Golf," completing our series on 2012.

• • •

It has been a fun year, so I think it’s good to make this little document so when I look back few years from now I will still think it happened yesterday. I want to thank my mom, dad, sister, (caddie) Chris Gold and (coach) Andrew Park. Without you guys my year would not be the same!

It all began on a windy day in Florida… it changed my year, my life and history . . .

• • •


This is the month of the beginning. It is the beginning of a new year, a new relationship, and a new story to be told. My dad went up to Chris (Gold) and offered him a job. I have to say that was a great move by my dad and now Chris and I are inseparable.

• • •


With a great start of the year working with Chris (who I call CG$$), I won one tournament by nine shots (an IMG tournament in St. Augustine, Fla.) and shot my lowest score over two days (70-65). And taking a photo as dumb as this one I'm not impressed . . .

• • •


I played my first AJGA open event at Innisbrook Resort and Club, just two weeks after the Transitions Championship. I finished 11th for the tournament which I thought was pretty good. After the first day, I was 61st. But an even better thing happened when TaylorMade rep Jason Werner came up to me and gave me tons of stuff. Until today I'm still really loyal to them and they helped me so much. I wouldn't be where I am without them.

• • •


This wasn't a very big month, I played some tournaments in Florida, traveling with Chris. During those four short weeks, we did form a better relationship and became better friends.

• • •


This is the beginning of my wonderful year. I was convinced by Chris to try to qualify for the U.S Open. I played my local qualifier at Lake Wales CC, where I shot 69 and qualified! I was never so happy before. I realized how smart the idea was to try to do this. I became the youngest player ever to make through locals.

• • •


My emotions this month had some great ups and down. I played in the sectional qualifier for the U.S Open. I made a 6-foot putt on the last hole to shoot 70-72. I finished T-3 and made the playoff. I couldn't be happier! But losing the playoff against Brooks Koepka put me in the worst depression for the next 10 days until I got the call from Jeff Hall telling me I was in the field for the U.S Open! It's unbelievable how much I learned during the U.S Open. First, everything you want you can probably get it. Second, everything you get is free, EVERYTHING! (And yes, that includes Snickers bars) Third, the fans love you! It doesn't matter if you hit it 30 yards left. They always yell 'GOOD SHOT!'

• • •


I played the U.S. Junior in New Hampshire. I made it to match play, and lost my first match to one of my best friends, Sam Horsfield. But I was so overwhelmed. It was my first time to get picked up in the airport by someone holding my name.

• • •


I played my third USGA event, the U.S Amateur at Cherry Hills in Colorado. I played terrible, but the conditions were very hard. I finished closed to last place, and it wasn't a very good memory. But aside from golf, I met one of Chris' sisters, Natalie. She is one of FIVE kids who grew up in Chris' family and unfortunately for Chris he is the only boy.

• • •


There are lots of beautiful memories from this month. I played the Omega European Masters in Switzerland. At the golf course, you can see the snow up in the mountains and perfect weather with sunshine where you are playing. I climbed up a mountain after the second round. It was a great work out I have to admit. On the other hand it was one of the most expensive places in the world! The cheapest water was about $10.

• • •


Chris, my dad and I went to Korea for 3 weeks. It was a crazy experience! Nobody spoke English, I had to hit balls off of mats and there were no holes on the practice green until the morning of the tournament. We had to take a club caddy every time we played and it was about $300 a round! It felt like we were getting robbed. The only good thing was the food. If you want to gain some weight go to Korea! But overall I guess it was a good learning experience, learning the different culture and how to handle stuff at a new place. Everything was new to us.

• • •


We took a little vacation in Beijing, where I grew up. We stayed there for 6 weeks. We went to different parts of China - the Great Wall, my dad's hometown, Hong Kong and Shen Zhen. We ate all kinds of food and experienced all the crazy stuff. The best part was probably that there were no 'Stop' signs anywhere in the country, which made it a little easier to drift on the roads. We had such a great time there, with still four days a week of practice.

• • •


This is always my favorite month if the year. My birthday is in this month and Christmas is on the 25th. It is a month is full of happiness. A nice addition to this year's December was when my coach Andrew Park, Chris and I went to Australia to play in the Australian Open! It was my first time in Australia and first time in the Southern Hemisphere. This was one of my favorite trips of this year, especially when we stayed in a casino right on the harbor.

Life is wonderful!

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