2013 Masters Blog

Today (Monday) at Augusta National, the oldest golfer in the full field is set to play a practice round with the youngest player in the field. More than that, he’s the youngest ever to play in the Masters.

Tom Watson, 63, is the unequivocal elder statesman of professional championship golf, while China’s Guan Tianlang is 14, and plays this week as winner of the 2012 Asia Pacific Amateur Championship. Guan’s youth is emphasised by the fact he was born 18 months after Tiger Woods won his first major title at the 1997 Masters.

“If the kid is so good that he won a big amateur tournament in Asia then he has got to be an outstanding player,” observes Bernhard Langer, 55, who is playing in his 30th Masters this week. “I remember Sergio Garcia when he was 15 years old. He had a +5 handicap and he was winning tournaments all over the place. It was very exciting to see such a prospect. Seve Ballesteros turned professional when he was 15, and finished second in the Open at the age of 19, in 1976.

“It is a thrilling prospect for Guan Tianlang to play in the Masters, and it will inspire a lot of other young people to pick-up the game. This also illustrates how kids are developing these days. Young athletes are physically stronger than we used to be at that age. They have better coaching and facilities, and better opportunities to compete, and so the result is that they can develop into very good golfers at a very young age.”

And Langer remembers how it feels to be short of opportunities. At the age of 14, growing up in Anausen, Germany, he visited a careers advisor to find out how he could pursue a career as a golf professional. The advisor said to Langer: “I have never heard of that,” and walked into the next room to see if the office had any information. A few minutes later the advisor returned and said to Langer, “There is no such thing. Find something else to do.”

Thankfully, Langer’s stubborn streak helped to push him on to become the first German golfer to win a major, the 1985 Masters.

Robin Barwick travelled to the 2013 Masters with Mercedes-Benz, International Partner of the Masters Tournament