BURBANK, Calif. -- A 13-year-old golf prodigy has advanced from the first round of qualifiers for the upcoming U.S. Open in Los Angeles -- and will be one of 90 amateur players competing for five spots in the tournament this Monday.
It has been 75 years since Los Angeles has hosted the U.S. Open, which would only make it all the more special if local teenage phenom Jaden Soong is able to make the major golf tournament.
Our sister station KABC-TV in Los Angeles covered Soong when he was 8 years old, and he was golf's version of Mozart even back then. From ages 6 to 8 years old, Soong placed first at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship in back-to-back years.
Now, after having a few years to mature, Soong has improved his game and grown his love for the sport.
"It's my favorite sport. I couldn't imagine playing anything else," he told KABC.
Soong hit a 280-yard shot when KABC's news team came to visit him on the golf course. An impressive stroke, even for a grown man.
Soong needed a handicap of under +1.5 to be one of the 10,000 golfers to make the initial qualifiers, and he has a +1.3 -- or that's what he thinks he has, he said. Then, at the qualifier, Soong placed in the top five there, landing him a spot in Monday's sectional play-in round.
The top five players at Monday's sectional get to play at the U.S. Open at the Los Angeles County Club starting June 15.
Chris Soong, Jaden's father, said the U.S. Open would be a great opportunity.
"The U.S. Open to me is obviously a great opportunity for amateurs to try out and see what they can do against the professionals," Chris Soong said.
Jaden Soong knows his success is a long shot, as he is going up against players who used to compete on the PGA Tour, as well as top college athletes. But he said he is hoping to just have some fun.
"I don't have too many expectations. I am just hoping to go out there and have fun. Just learn from the experience because I'm playing with other really good players," he said.
And Chris Soong said his son has already exceeded his expectations.
"My expectations are already exceeded. The fact that he is in the sectionals was literally a dream," Chris Soong said.
Another dream, for Jaden at least, is to get to miss a day of school -- which, thanks to the sectionals, he will now get to do on Monday.
"I'm missing school for that day, so that's just even better," he said.