By Ron Mintz
After three wins already in 2013, and his previous four victories at Augusta, the talk around the Masters this week is centered on Tiger Woods. Well most of it.
Before Woods three wins this year, a 14 year old golf star from China emerged and is making Masters History this week.
Tianlang Guan becomes the youngest player in Masters History. Italian Matteo Manassero was previously the youngest Masters competitor three years ago at the age of 16. Now 19, Manassero will also be in the field this week.
Guan, a 14 year old Chinese golfer won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in November of last year, and thereby punched his ticket into the 2013 Masters Championship. By the way, he was the youngest player in that tournament as well.
Guan didn’t only make Masters History because of his age, but has the top players in the world talking more about Guan’s game than their own this week.
Four times Masters Champion and #1 ranked Tiger Woods on Guan: “At his age to come here and handle himself the way he has is just unbelievable.” Woods also made an observation not many if anyone has mentioned this week: “This kid can’t even play high school golf, because he is not in high school yet.”
“At 14 he is an incredible player” said Phil Mickelson. “You can’t believe how good a putter he is; he has great touch and vision. I can’t imagine playing in a PGA Tour event at his age, let alone the best event in golf, the Masters” said Mickelson.
Guan obviously came to play, seeking expert advice from Woods, Mickelson, Nicklaus, and Ben Crenshaw to name a few.
In getting advice from Crenshaw, a two time Masters Champion, known as one of the best putters ever, but not as a long ball striker, 14 year old Guan finds his game much like Crenshaw in that respect. Woods said, “He hit a lot of hybrids to holes yesterday, but they were spot on.”
Based on Woods comments, a long Augusta National layout will not be an issue for Guan, and according to Mickelson, Guan’s putting is superb this week on the sometimes treacherous Augusta greens.
So keep your eyes on Tianlang Guan, as he ads just another reason Masters week is like none other.
And if that is not enough reason to watch, the pairing for 12:34 pm Thursday is: Ben Crenshaw, Matteo Manassero, and Tianlang Guan.
By 12:40, with one tee shot, Guan will make Masters History, regardless of where his ball lands.
Follow Ron via Twitter @pgatournews