Morgan Pressel can understand if 14-year-old Andy Zhang feels overwhelmed this week at the U.S. Open.
In 2001, Pressel became the youngest player at the time to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. Pressel was 12 when she earned a spot at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in North Carolina. (She turned 13 before the tournament was played, and her age record was subsequently broken by Lexi Thompson, who also was 12 when she qualified for the U.S. Women's Open in 2007.)
"I dreamed big, but when I got there, I was so overwhelmed to have my locker next to the best players in the world," Pressel said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Zhang, a native of China, was second alternate to start the week in San Francisco. When Brandt Snedeker and Paul Casey withdrew Monday, Zhang gained entry into the field. At 14 years, 6 months, Zhang will become the youngest U.S. Open competitor ever.
Zhang is already one step ahead of Pressel. He signed up to play a practice round with Masters champion Bubba Watson and Aaron Baddeley. Perhaps more timid, Pressel simply picked an open time.
"Now that I know how it works …" she said with a laugh, "I know all the pros try to play practice rounds with each other."
Pressel missed the cut at Pine Needles, shooting a pair of 77s. Still, that week, she said, made her more confident professional golf was her calling.
Since then, she has two LPGA wins, including the 2007 Kraft Nabisco, which made her the youngest major winner (18) in LPGA history.
Pressel's advice to Zhang for this week? Savor the memories.
"It's an experience he'll remember forever," she said, "and one I hope he enjoys."
Zhang will play at 11:21 a.m. ET on Thursday with Hiroyuki Fujita and Mark Wilson.
Tags: US Open
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