Jaden Soong is an immensely talented 7-year-old who plays golf without the burden of premature expectation.
In 2004, Rory McIlroy’s father, Gerry, placed a £200 bet on his son to win The Open within 10 years with odds of 500/1 at the time. A fairly innocuous bet if you consider the improbability of a junior golfer maintaining form into their adult life.
Golf is a cruel sport, for every exceptionally talented junior that makes it as a professional, 100 will not. Indeed, a junior golfer can appear infallible–dominating tournaments throughout their teenage years–only to find the prospect of a professional career too burdensome. The same could be said for Ty Tryon, a junior talent many heralded as the next Tiger Woods.
In 2001, at the age of 17, Tyron became the youngest player to earn a PGA Tour card and signed endorsement deals worth $8 million. He was to put it bluntly, the next big thing.
“He was billed as the future, a teenager with an ethereal game and an entourage that included two swing coaches, a media consultant, a trainer, a sports psychologist and a yoga instructor. As a rookie, Tryon battled illness and his own illusions that tour life was all golf and glamour.”
Karen Course, The New York Times
Today TY is 32 and works as an assistant professional. He is a cautionary tale for any parent looking to live vicariously through their child (Ty’s father named him after a character from Caddyshack).
Of all the sports, golf has to be the easiest to pile expectation onto a child’s shoulders. A junior can achieve a great deal before a razor has even touched their chin, often an indication of parental discipline rather than innate talent.
Take the time to observe golf’s current landscape and you will invariably find that most players grew up without parental baggage in tow. Of course, the likes of Dustin, Rory, Jordan and Jason wouldn’t be where they are today without encouragement, but if you look closely the agency was always with them.
So when you see a talent like young Jaden Soong, you should pay attention. He has that winning combination o ability, dedication and happiness, all achieved through the life-first mantra that his father and coach encourage.
Gerry McIlroy not only got to witness his son take home the Claret Jug in style, he was also the happy recipient of £100,000. Betting on Jaden would be ethically perverse, but when a young kid turns up with a talent that spawns from a love and enjoyment for the sport, you should take note.