It is now official: aged 14 years, five months and 17 days, China’s Guan Tianlang is the youngest golfer to have competed in the Masters. Not only that, but the teenage debutant performed today at Augusta National as he had done during practice – with consummate composure.
Guan shot an excellent 73, one over par, to sit in the middle of the 2013 Masters field after 18 holes – in a tie for 46th at the time of writing – with five dropped shots being compensated by four birdies, including an impressive three at the final hole. There are six amateur golfers in the field this week, and Guan is the first-round leader among them by three clear shots.
While Guan’s scoring was full of dips and peaks, the groundbreaking teenager never flinched, outwardly at least. Guan’s face never really changed expression, whether he was burying a five-foot putt for birdie at the 10th – having delivered a magnificent hybrid approach from 190 yards with what he describes as “a little bit of cut” – or dropping his second shot into the water on the 11th. He just took it all in his stride.
Only did a broad toothy, smile cross Guan’s face once he had completed his day’s work with an unerring, 20-foot birdie putt from the edge of the 18th green. When the ball dropped it triggered one of the loudest roars of the first round of the 2013 Masters. Playing partner Ben Crenshaw stopped to applaud. The kid is a hit.
And does he think he can actually win this week? “I don’t know,” answered Guan after his round, in another accomplished press conference, “but I think I can win the Masters in the future.”
Robin Barwick travelled to the 2013 Masters with Mercedes-Benz, International Partner of the Masters Tournament