News / USA

Chinese Golfer, 14, to Make History at Masters

Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship winner, 14-year-old Guan Tianlang of China hits his tee shot on the first hole during a practice round in preparation for the 2013 Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, Apr. 9, 2013.
Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship winner, 14-year-old Guan Tianlang of China hits his tee shot on the first hole during a practice round in preparation for the 2013 Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, Apr. 9, 2013.
Parke Brewer
At only 14 years old, Chinese golfer Guan Tianlang is set to become the youngest player ever to tee off at the prestigious Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia, which begins Thursday.  
 
Ninety-three golfers representing 23 countries are competing in the 2013 Masters tournament.  And while much of the focus is on American Tiger Woods, who recently reclaimed the world's No. 1 ranking after winning three tournaments this year, many eyes will also be on China's Guan Tianlang.
 
He is one of 17 first-time participants and one of the six amateurs who will compete at the famous Augusta National Golf Club in the year's first major tournament.
 
Guan qualified for the Masters by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last November in Thailand.  The previous youngest golfer to play the Masters was Italian Matteo Manassero at age 16 in 2010.
 
Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne said the Asia-Pacific Championship was created four years ago "to create heroes in that region who would inspire others to take up the game."
 
"No doubt millions of kids across Asia will be following him this week and by doing so begin their introduction to the great game of golf," he said. 
 
Guan, whose is from Guangzhou, stands about 1.75 meters and weighs only 65 kilograms.  His favorite golfer is Tiger Woods who Guan got to play a practice round with.
 
The 37-year old Woods won his first Masters in 1997 before Guan was even born.  He said it was hard to believe Guan qualified for the Masters before he is even in high school.  Tiger Woods played his first Masters at age 19 and has won at the Augusta National Golf Club four times, but not since 2005.
 
Guan said he has confidence and believes he will play well in the Masters, but added he will not try to do too many things and just play like he knows how.  Woods said the young Chinese golfer's game is "so consistent," and the way he's handled himself so far this week in preparing has been "just unbelievable."
 
Guan will get to test himself against the world's best players on the famous Augusta course that Payne said is in wonderful shape, thanks to good weather and the efforts of course superintendent Marsh Benson.
 
"Perfect winter conditions, generous rain and the hard work of Marsh Benson and his team have combined for a fair but worthy challenge for these great players.  I believe we could be in for a thrilling finish similar to those we have enjoyed in recent years," he said. 
 
The defending Masters champion is American Bubba Watson who won in a playoff last year.  Tiger Woods finished well back in the field, tied for 40th place, but with the way he's played recently has high hopes for the title this year. 

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