Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old from China who finished as low amateur at the 2013 Masters while competing as the youngest player in tournament history, will become the youngest competitor in the history of the HP Byron Nelson Championship this week.
In addition to receiving a sponsor’s exemption, Guan will be one of five players recognized during tournament week as recipients of this year’s Byron Nelson International Junior Golfer Awards. Honorees include Guan, Viraat Badhwar (Australia), Jim Liu (Smithtown, N.Y.), Stratton Nolen (Austin) and Robby Shelton (Wilmer, Ala.).
Guan, the reigning Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion, was the only one of six amateurs in the Masters field who made the 36-hole cut in Augusta, Ga. He reached the weekend rounds despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play in the second round and finished with a tournament total of 12-over par (73-77-75-75).
Guan, an eighth-grader, followed up by finishing 71st in last month’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Included was a second-round 69 that helped him survive the 36-hole cut.
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Heading into his third appearance of the season in a PGA Tour event, below is a look at Guan in his own words:
On whether winning low amateur at the Masters marked the biggest achievement of his golf career:
“Yeah, I think so. It was such a great week for me and I enjoyed it. I learned a lot.”
On whether he was surprised to make the cut at his first two tour events:
“I’m not too surprised. But … there’s still a lot of things to improve. My short game’s good, but I still need to be better. My driver probably needs to be longer. Everything needs to improve.”
On the best advice he received from Ben Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champ, during their two rounds together in Augusta:
“Just play my own game and have fun.”
On being followed by large galleries at the Masters and at the event in New Orleans:
“I feel OK with them watching me. I think I’m doing a pretty good job, and thanks for that.”
On what he does away from the golf course:
“I will go to school and play other sports a little bit. I like basketball. I don’t have too much [free] time. But I enjoy playing golf.”
On being an inspiration to other golfers in China, a country with a limited golf history:
“I think it will invite more young kids in China to start playing golf, and it’s really helpful. I look forward to it … I think it’s good for Chinese golf, that more people know this game and pick up this game.”
On the influence of Tiger Woods in his golf game:
“I will say when I was probably 3 or 4 years old, I was looking at him win the Masters and it was pretty exciting to watch him. I’ve played with him twice in the past couple of years, and he gives me advice. Every time I play with him, I feel a lot better and give myself some confidence. It’s very good.”