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Amateurs' accomplishment one for the ages

By Joe Sarro
On April 17, 2013


Tianlang Guan isn't your ordinary 14-year-old eighth-grader.
While most eighth-graders in China are focusing on homework and socializing with friends,
Guan is fresh off his first Masters Tournament.
Last Thursday, Guan became the youngest golfer to ever qualify and compete at the Masters,
golf's most significant major championship. Augusta was the course last weekend and on Friday
he shot a 3-over 75, putting him at 4-over midway through the tournament.
The score was just good enough to beat the cut line, making him the youngest player to make
the cut not only at Augusta, but at any major championship. It ranks among one of the most
significant feats ever attained in the 77-year history of the Masters.
Heads were turned watching the youngest player to tee off in a major in 148 years. Guan never
let his nerves get the best of him. He walked onto the first tee with confidence, shaking hands
with playing partners Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero, who three years ago became one
of the youngest to participate at Augusta at 16. He gave a long glance down the fairway before
taking a couple of practice swings and then let it go.
The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Guan doesn't have the long ball to keep up with the big boys just yet,
but the short chipping game that he possesses can give the boy an advantage over the old-
timers in the near future.
Guan was never a contender to win, but his performance over four days was truly remarkable
for someone his age playing at the Masters. He had six birdies, never had a three-putt on
Augusta's difficult greens and was never any worse than a bogey.
At the 18th hole Sunday, he two-putted from a little under 40 feet to finish with a 12-over 300
for the week, receiving a big cheer from the gallery and a handshake from Augusta National
Chairman Billy Payne.
Guan, who has no plans to turn pro yet, can't take any prize money since he is an amateur. But
for his performance, he did receive the Silver Cup for having the top score among amateurs
who played 72 holes - he was also the only amateur to do so.
Guan's age lowers the bar and motivates other teens to come up to play with pros, which is
a great accomplishment for golf. It's not likely the bar for making cuts in majors is going to go
much lower than 13 or 14 years of age. But one has to believe it's becoming more and more
likely that teenagers will have significant impacts on the game just as they have in other sports,
like they have in tennis for many years now.
World-class golf instruction, dedicated golf academies, improved strength programs and the lure
of great riches for the elite juniors promise to produce more golfers like Guan, especially given
his success this weekend.
Yes, golf is a pressure-packed sport that some teens could not handle, but a special talent like
Guan is a reason more people are watching the sport. Golf fans are exposed to these players
at a younger, more genuine age, and therefore have more time to create a fan relationship with
them, which might last decades.
What we know from last week is that golf has a new rising star and Augusta National has a new
record to celebrate. Given that, the world of golf will be watching and rooting for Guan for many
years to come.
For an eighth-grader to accomplish this goal, that deserves a happy meal.
Joseph Sarro can be reached by email at

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