Hillcrest Country Club bore witness to a remarkable display of talent and ambition as 13-year-old Jaden Soong, a Burbank resident, took on the challenge of becoming the youngest player ever to qualify for the prestigious U.S. Open. Despite his efforts, Soong’s quest for the record fell just short, but his journey serves as a testament to his incredible potential at such a young age.
Soong arrived at the U.S. Open qualifier determined to make history. In the first 18 holes, Soong showed poise and composure, carding an impressive score of 73. The golfer’s steady performance set the stage for a thrilling second round.
As Soong teed off for the final 18 holes, hopes were high that he would surpass the record set by Andy Zhang in 2012 when he qualified for the U.S. Open at the age of 14. However, the pressures of the moment proved to be a formidable obstacle as he finished the day 73-76 — 149 (7-over-par), narrowly missing the opportunity to etch his name in the history books. He finished the 36-hole marathon with three birdies, eight bogeys and one double-bogey while paring the remaining 24 holes.
While falling short of his ultimate goal, Soong’s journey has left an indelible mark on the world of golf. His passion for the sport and his determination to challenge the boundaries of what is possible at such a young age can serve as an inspiration to athletes of all ages.
It is worth noting that Soong’s admiration for Jordan Spieth, a three-time major champion, including the 2015 U.S. Open, has played a significant role in his journey. Soong’s dedication to emulating his idol’s achievements has likely fueled his own pursuit of greatness.
As Soong reflects on his performance, he can take pride in his remarkable accomplishments at the U.S. Open qualifier. While the record remains in the hands of Zhang, the young golfer has proven that age is no barrier to achieving greatness on the golf course.
Soong, a 7th-grader at Thomas Starr King Middle School, earned one of the last two spots in the 36-hole qualifier by shooting an even-par 72 during the local qualifier on May 15 at Brentwood Country Club, finishing in a three-way tie for fourth in a field of 90, then making a 12-foot putt in a playoff.
The U.S. Open will be played June 15-18 at the Los Angeles Country Club, the second time it will be played in Los Angeles and the first since 1948 when it was played at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
First published in the June 10 print issue of the Burbank Leader.