Tianlang Guan: What were you doing at 14?
THERE has been an advert running this week on American television asking the best players in the world what they were doing at 14.
Tiger Woods was running track and trying to make his high school golf team, others were just ‘hanging with friends’.
I asked one notable golf journalist what he was doing at that age; he thought for a minute, smiled and replied ‘probably being a pain in the arse. Not much has changed since.’
To the side of us on the 3rd green was Tianlang Guan, the youngest player ever to play in the Masters, and the story of the week. Ernie Els, Steve Stricker and Nick Watney are playing in the group behind but all the press are with the teenager.
He is slighter built than most 14-year-olds, barely weighs nine stone and is a little over 5”8. Ben Crenshaw’s long-standing Augusta caddy Carl Jackson said of him; “You think he’s an adult — until you look at him. There’s a baby over there.”
Guan is in the process of providing one of the greatest stories in Masters history
He is deliberate, measured, as cool as the coolest of cucumbers and in the process of providing one of the greatest stories in the history of the tournament.
Even with a one-shot penalty handed out by European Tour rules supremo John Paramor.
He admitted to nerves on the 1st tee on Thursday, he split the fairway. He finished the day with a 20-footer from the back of the 18th.
This morning he chipped and putted, with his long putter, at the 1st to a horrible location and then continued where he left off with fairway woods and hybrids to a good number of holes and beautiful soft hands around the greens to continue churning out the pars.
And tucking into sandwiches and snacks which his mum had packed for him.
Halfway down the 17th he was told of the timing infringement, the disappointment was obvious but he still rallied to knock in an eight-footer for par at the last.
There was no celebration, just a shake of the head and some more encouragement from Ben Crenshaw, 48 years his senior.
After his opening round he was asked what his goals were. He replied that he would like to win a Major (naturally) and hopefully win all four in one year.
Much like many 14-year-olds but with slightly more reason.