Andy Zhang, 14, Joins Ranks of Youngest Professional Athletes

PHOTO: Andy Zhang hits a tee shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 112th U.S. Open in San Francisco, Calif., June 12, 2012.
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

At the age of 14, Andy Zhang will make history this week when he becomes the youngest golfer to compete in the U.S. Open.

Zhang beat out Tadd Fujikawa for the title of youngest competitor. Fujikawa set the record in 2006 at the age of 15.

After two golfers had to withdraw due to injuries, Zhang moved up in the ranks to replace them on the course.

The youngster was paired with 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson in a practice round on Tuesday, and he will tee off with Hiroyuki Fujita and Mark Wilson Thursday in the first round.

Here are some other notable athletes who made headlines when they emerged on the scene as some of the youngest in their fields.

Michelle Wie hits her tee shot on the sixth hole during the Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club, Pittsford, NY June 8, 2012.
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Michelle Wie

Michelle Wie made headlines in 2000 when she became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for a USGA amateur championship. She was 10 years old.

When she was 13, Wie became the youngest golfer ever to compete in an LPGA tour. She turned professional in 2005, just before her 16th birthday.

PHOTO: Maria Sharapova holds her trophy after winning the Women's Singles final at the French Open held at the Roland Garros stadium, Paris, FR., June 9, 2012.
Patrick Kovarik /AFP/GettyImages
Maria Sharapova

Tennis superstar Maria Sharapova became the first Russian ever to win the Wimbleton tournament when she was only 17 years old.

Now at the age of 25, Sharapova continues to dominate the tennis world, winning her first French Open earlier this year. The win meant that the tennis star had completed a career Grand Slam, signifying she had won all four major tennis events.

PHOTO: Cincinnati Reds' Joe Nuxhall throws a pitch in this 1956 file photo.
AP Photo
Joe Nuxhall

At the age of 15, Joe Nuxhall became the youngest person ever to play in a Major League Baseball game.

In 1944 Nuxhall, a left-handed pitcher, was called up to the Cincinnati Reds due to a player shortage because of World War II. He completed two thirds of an inning.

Nuxhall continued to make headlines in adulthood, playing in the 1955 and 1956 All-Star games.

PHOTO: Bryce Harper, of the Washington Nationals looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Washington, DC, May 4, 2012.
Rob Tringali/Newscom
Bryce Harper

Nineteen-year-old Bryce Harper made his major league debut in April 2012 as an outfielder with the Washington Nationals.

Harper is only the 10th teenager since 1990 to hit a big-league home run, according to USA Today.

PHOTO: Jimmie Foxx, first-baseman and slugger for the Philadelphia Athletics, shown in this 1930 file photo.
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Jimmie Foxx

First baseman Jimmie Foxx burst onto the baseball scene in 1925 at just 17.

Beyond his age, Foxx stood out for many other reasons. He was the second batter in history to hit 500 home runs and won back-to-back MVP awards in 1932 and 1933.

Nicknamed "The Beast," Foxx spent most his career with the Philadelphia Athletics, but also played for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Phillies.

PHOTO: Freddy Adu, #7 of the USA plays against Canada in the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying match, Nashville, Tenn., March 24, 2012.
Frederick Breedon/ Getty Images
Freddy Adu

Freddy Adu became the youngest person to play for a Major League Soccer team in 2003 when he signed on with the D.C. United at the early age of 14.

The Ghana-born superstar graduated from high school three years early in order to pursue his athletic dreams.

Adu won a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and was also a two-time player for the MLS All-Star Team.

PHOTO: Andrew Bynum, #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for a shot in the second half in game four of the Western Conference Semifinals in Los Angeles, Ca., May 19, 2012.
Stephen Dunn/ Getty Images
Andrew Bynum

In 2005, when he was 18 years and 6 days old, Andrew Bynum became the youngest person ever to play in the NBA when he stepped onto the court for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 7-foot-tall center went on to help the Lakers win back-to-back basketball championships in 2009 and 2010.

PHOTO: Kobe Bryant, of the Los Angeles Lakers passes the ball during one of the NBA Western Conference finals in Los Angeles, May 20, 2000.
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Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant burst onto the basketball scene in 1996 as an 18-year-old 13th draft pick for the NBA.

He joined the Charlotte Hornets but was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he became a sports icon.

Bryant, a 14-time All Star player, has led the Lakers to five NBA championships.

PHOTO: Darryl Dawkins, of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots during an NBA basketball game at the Spectrum Philadelphia, Penn., during the 1981 season.
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Darryl Dawkins

After graduating from high school, Darryl Dawkins renounced his college eligibility and applied for the 1975 NBA Draft.

Dawkins, a 6-foot-11-inch18-year-old, was drafted fifth overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Dawkins was a powerful dunker, shattering two backboards in a three week span, a move that prompted the NBA to adopt the breakaway rim.

PHOTO: Tara Lipinski of the US wins the gold medal in the women's figure skating competition in 1988 Olympics.
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Tara Lipinski

At a time when most kids are starting high school, Tara Lapinski was winning Olympic Gold.

Lapinski was only 15 years old in 1998 when she won the Ladies' Singles Olympic gold medal in figure skating.

Lipinski remains the youngest individual gold medalist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.

PHOTO: Tom Daley, of Great Britain competes in the Men's 10m Platform Final in Beijing,China, March 24, 2012.
AP Photo
Tom Daley

Tom Daley became the youngest British athlete to participate in the Olympics as a 13-year-old on England's Olympic diving team in 2008.

Although he did not win a medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Daley is training hard to change that in the 2012 Summer Olympics in his home country, England.

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