A 13-year-old golf prodigy made history on Monday by becoming the youngest player ever to reach the final round of U.S. Open qualifying.
Burbank native Jaden Soong, a seventh grader at Thomas Starr King Middle School in California, attempted to qualify for the 123rd edition of the U.S. Open by participating in the grueling two-round, 36-hole event at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles.
Highly coveted U.S. Open spots: The qualifying event attracted an impressive 89-player field that included three-time PGA Tour winner Brendan Steele, 18-year-old Dylan Block and other renowned professionals all vying for just five coveted spots in the U.S. Open. Soong joined the qualifier after advancing through a three-way first-stage playoff last month at Brentwood Country Club in California.
Almost made it: However, the young golfer ended his campaign at the qualifiers by finishing seven-over par and 16 shots behind the highest-scoring qualifiers. He shot a 73 in the first round and a 76 in the second for a total of 149.
Had Soong qualified, he would have beaten the longstanding record held by China’s Andy Zhang, who became the youngest golfer to play at the U.S. Open at the age of 14 years and 183 days in 2012.
Promising future ahead: “I learned a lot about my game as well,” Soong said after the event. “Things I need to improve on and things that are pretty good. Overall, I think I just need to conserve my energy a little bit more.”
Chris Soong, the teen golfer’s dad, is proud of his son’s accomplishment: “It’s just a miracle he was even able to advance to this. So we’re really, really happy and just really proud.”
The teenager will have another shot at breaking Zhang’s record next year, when he’ll be 14.