Chinese golfer prodigy Guan Tianlang, at only 14, made the cut to become the youngest-ever competitor at the U.S. Masters this weekend. And at only 14, he finished well, suggesting that he and Chinese golf have quite a future.
Guan played the whole four days on one of the world’s greatest and most difficult courses.
The amateur finished with a total score of 12 over par at Augusta to win the Silver Cup, the prize awarded to the best-performing amateur, won in the past by Tiger Woods. He signed off on Sunday with a three-0ver 75.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
The young man from Guangzhou turned heads and earned a tribute from golfing great Gary Player, who said,: "I thought Tianlang Guan would score 81, 82 but I wouldn't have been surprised by a 90 because this course is such a monster. The greatest thing I have seen in golf was Tiger Woods winning a Grand Slam at 24, but Guan's performance is the second best I have seen.”
Another noteworthy aspect of Guan’s performance on Saturday was his receipt of a rare penalty for playing too slowly. At the 17th hole on the second day, the Chinese sensation was hit with a one-stroke punishment for taking too long. It was a stark lesson that he is not going to get any special treatment because of his tender age.
“The soft-coated answer would be I feel bad but I also feel like they just don't go around handing out one-shot penalties here,” Fred Couples, winner of the 1992 Masters, said of the penalty. “I don't even know of anyone who has ever got one. It feels hard to give a 14-year-old a penalty but he's in the field. He beat a lot of guys yesterday, whatever the hell age he is."
Northern Irish golf pro Graeme McDowell said that there were others who had a long history of going slow who should have been penalized before Guan.
"To make an example of a young 14-year-old, it's not fair," McDowell said. "There are plenty of seasoned pros out here who need a good rocket to get a move along.”
All in all though, it was quite an education for the 14 year-old who returns home to continue his studies. He will be back, though.
"It's not easy to play here and make the cut and be the low amateur and I think I did a pretty good job,'' Guan said. "I'm a little bit tired today – still a lot of things to improve. Short game is good, but could still get better and my driving has to get a little bit longer. Yes, everything needs to improve."
Thankfully, Guan has a lot of time to do so.