In a word, no – at least not this year – but now that he’s made the cut, how well can he realistically do?
The field of 93 has been pared down to 61, with Guan beginning Round 3 ranked tied for 55th with 6 other players (otherwise known as last equal). Obviously just making the cut is outstanding, but a top 50 finish is now a real possibility.
When Guan Tianlang walked off the 18th green at the end of a 3-over-par second round of 75 – and one hole removed from being controversially given a one-stroke penalty for slow play – he stood at +4 for the tournament, fractionally above the PROJECTED CUT line. But while his score was fixed, that line was not.
His first round of 73 stunned the sporting world, perhaps more so internationally than back home in China, where golf remains a niche sport. But making the cut would emulate Thursday’s achievements, even though it is now in the hands of the gods – and, as he found out to his cost, those of the officials.
As good as Guan Tianlang was on Thursday at the Masters – and he was very good – he’ll have to be every bit as good, perhaps better, on Friday to make the cut. His 1-over-par 73 leaves him tied for 46th place in a field of 94 players, and three shots clear of the next best amateur in the field.
Guan Tianlang tees off at the Masters at 12.24 am early on Friday morning China time, playing alongside Ben Crenshaw (the oldest competitor in the field) and 19-year-old Matteo Manassero, who, as a 16-year-old, previously held (well, technically still holds for another few hours…!) the youngest age record at the Masters.
Good news for Guan in his quest to make the cut: the Masters changed their rules on Wednesday for the first time since 1962 (what is in the water this year??), meaning that more players will now stick around for the weekend’s action. It used to be players standing tied for 44th or better (or within 10 strokes of the lead) would continue to play on Saturday and Sunday, but has been raised to tied for 50th or better (plus those with 10 shots of the lead).
And good news for Guan in his quest to win the whole thing: given that no player has ever won Wednesday’s Par-3 competition AND the Masters proper in the same year, Guan will be “pleased” that Ted Potter Jr, another Masters rookie (but 15 years his senior!) took home the Par-3 prize.
Typically adults are better than kids at most sports, but you could argue that’s not the case in diving (smaller bodies = less splash), gymnastics (younger athletes = more flexible) and now you can add golf to the list – or at least golf in China.
First there was 14-year-old Andy Zhang who gained a last-minute entry into the 2012 US Open as second alternate after Brandt Snedeker and Paul Casey both withdrew through injury. Then there was 13-year-old Guan Tianlang who played in last year’s China Open, a European Tour event, and will tee off at the Masters next week at the ripe old age of 14. And now there is Ye Wocheng, a 12-year-old who will next month break Guan’s record as the youngest to play on the European Tour. Continue reading Sports where puberty is a disadvantage→
“T.I.C. This is China. It’s just a completely different world over here.”
That was Michael Phelps’ assessment after playing golf with Matt Kuchar at Mission Hills golf club in Haikou. He kept he temper remarkably well, despite, hole-after-hole, losing his ball to Chinese fans hellbent on snagging a souvenir. Admittedly, as the video shows, he’s not the straightest hitter, but even when he nails the middle of the fairway, the ball is gone by the time he gets there.
“Someone picked it up and had a pen for me to sign it.”
No particular China angle in this week’s Sports Talk column about Rory McIlroy, but I’m currently working on a piece about Chinese golf – and teen sensation Guan Tianlang in particular – which I will post once it’s in print. Here’s the piece:
When Rory McIlroy signed a multi-million-dollar endorsement deal with Nike earlier this year, most of the headlines focused on the bottom line. Those in the game, though, were quick to point out the risks.
While the world’s press are catching up with news of David Beckham’s CSL deal, a more important signing in the world of Chinese sport in the last week might end up being female golfer Feng Shanshan partnering with IMG.
Feng was the first Chinese player to earn membership on the LPGA Tour after earning her card at qualifying school in 2008 and, last year, became the first major champion from the mainland – male or female – when she won the LPGA Championship. She’s currently ranked number five in the world.
China may have lost out in the recent David Beckham sweepstakes, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. According to the Beijing Youth Daily, Beckham will become an international ambassador for the Chinese Super League, beginning this season.