Guan has made the cut in both his starts on the PGA TOUR this season. (Revere/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion who made history earlier this month by becoming the youngest player to play in and make the cut at the Masters, has accepted a sponsor exemption to play in the HP Byron Nelson Championship, tournament officials announced Tuesday.
"What Guan has been able to accomplish at such a young age is very impressive," tournament chairman Mike McKinley said. "We have always had a tradition of identifying young talent and giving them an opportunity to compete at the Nelson, and we look forward to continuing that with Guan."
Guan captured low amateur honors at the Masters. He also made the cut at last week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Dustin Johnson and Marcel Siem committed to play at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, May 13-19.
Johnson was scheduled to play in this week's Wells Fargo Championship but withdrew because of a sore wrist.
By Brian Allee-Walsh, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- After coming off a poor third shot from a waste bunker on the par-5 18th Saturday morning, Guan Tianlang quickly went from a 14-year-old sensation playing in his second PGA TOUR event to a mere boy among men.
"He hits the shot and he says with a smile, 'Hey, there's a little alligator right here,'" said Guan's caddie, Todd McPherson. "People forget that he's still a kid.
"Yes, he pays attention to all the little things that go with playing good golf but he's still a kid. When it's time to hit a golf shot, he hits the shot. But at the end of the day he's still a kid and people forget that sometimes."
Until Saturday's third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Guan had played like a grown man, qualifying for the weekend at 3-under 141 with rounds of 72-69.
Though conditions were favorable in the morning at TPC Louisiana to go low, Guan went high with a 5-over 77 and stands last in the field of 71 at 2-over 218 entering Sunday's final round.
"I didn't do pretty good," Guan told reporters. "I didn't have a good start, and I tried to start back in the middle and made a couple birdies. But it was not a very good round."
Guan's roller-coaster ride of 39-38 consisted of nine pars, three birdies, five bogeys (including a bogey 6 on 18) and one triple bogey.
"He handled himself very well out there," McPherson said. "He's very even tempered. He doesn't get really hot or cold at all. He had a tough day but that's how it goes. He'll play again tomorrow. He's got to deal with the good rounds and the bad rounds. He'll have more bad rounds, it's just part of it."
McPherson, a 37-year-old scratch golfer from New Orleans and a member of TPC Louisiana, is carrying Guan's bag this week at the request of Fore!Kids Foundation CEO Steve Worthy. The hook-up comes two weeks after Guan became the youngest player to make a cut at a Masters.
"This is great fun out here, great fun," McPherson said. "He's a good kid.
"The shot I remember so far is his tee shot at No. 17 (213-yard, par 3 in the opening round. He hit 4-wood to 1 foot. That was a good shot, a good shot. His short game is really good. He was a little off today but his short game is good."
Given that 14-year-old Guan Tianlang made the cut in his first start as an amateur on the PGA TOUR and will again make the cut in his second start after shooting a 3-under 69 in Friday's second round of the Zurich Classic at New Orleans, we began to wonder.
How would Guan's accomplishments thus far compare to the amateur TOUR career of his hero Tiger Woods?
Here's a quick tale of the tape. Now if Guan can just win 14 majors and 77 TOUR events (and counting), the comparison will truly mean something:
|Category||Guan Tianlang||Tiger Woods|
|PGA TOUR starts as an amateur||2||14|
|Age of first TOUR start||14 years old||16 years old|
|Age of first made cut as an amateur||14 years old||19 years old|
|Made cuts as an amateur||2 -- the 2013 Masters and 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans||5, including 1995 Masters, 1996 U.S. Open and 1996 British Open|
|Total rounds on TOUR as an amateur||6||38|
|Rounds under par||1||8|
|Rounds at even par||1||8|
By Brian Allee-Walsh, PGATOUR.com Correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- Bubba Watson provided a unique perspective on the latest young phenom to hit the PGA TOUR.
It is vintage Bubba.
Soon after moving up the leaderboard Friday in the second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Watson discussed with reporters the mental aspect of Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang's golf game at the tender age of 14.
"At 14, he's not trying to pay his house off, you know?'' Watson told reporters after he carded a 65 to move into tie for 12th at 6-under 138. "I've hit enough bad shots where now I get to worry about them. But he doesn't see that yet.
"Right now, this is the first time in the tournament, and he's enjoying every minute of it. I am, too, but I worry. He's 14, he doesn't worry yet.''
Watson said Guan's sudden splash on the world golf scene is a reflection of the changing times.
"You know, bigger, better, stronger, faster, no matter what the sport is,'' the 2012 Masters champion said. "You look at every person in sports. It's growing that way. Pretty soon they're going to be younger, and 20 years down the road it's probably going to be younger than 14. Records are already broken.''
Two weeks ago, Guan became the youngest player to make the cut at a Masters tournament. On Friday, he made the cut at the Zurich Classic, his second event on TOUR.
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur who made the cut at the Masters Tournament two weeks ago is in line to make another cut at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans following Friday's 3-under 69.
Click on the photo below to view the gallery of this week's best Guan images from New Orleans.
By Brian Allee-Walsh, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- Just two weeks after making a historic cut at the Masters, 14-year-old Chinese sensation Guan Tianlang has made another weekend on the PGA TOUR.
Guan carded a 3-under 69 in the second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and sits at 3 under for the tournament. He was tied for 44th place when he finished with the afternoon groups still on the course and finished the day in a tie for 57th.
"I think I played a very good round today," Guan said, "and I made a lot of birdies and a couple of good up and downs. So I think I had a pretty good round, I think. I think I made the cut. ...
"Making the cut is one of my goals. I'm having fun these couple of days, and I hope to play my best and go a little further into the weekend."
Guan trails leader Lucas Glover by nine shots entering Saturday's third round. And while his chances of winning are slim, where he finishes seems of little importance to those golf fans who have taken a shine to him.
He appears to attract all ages, young and old, including his parents who were in his gallery Friday.
"I feel OK with them watching me,'' he said. "It makes it a little easier but it's still difficult to play on this course.''
Guan opened second-round play at even par, quickly moved to 1 under with a birdie on his first hole (No. 10), gave it back at No. 11, then sank a pivotal 17-foot for birdie at the 346-yard, par 4 16th.
He also posted birdies at Nos. 1 and 4, cracking par for the first time of his brief two-event career on the PGA TOUR. It also marks his lowest round in his first six rounds on TOUR, and he has not made worse than bogey on any single hole.
Friday's 69 was the same score shot by veterans Ernie Els and Justin Rose, among others. It's four strokes better than the 73 shot by Rickie Fowler, who at age 24 is among the closest players in the field nearest to Guan's age.
Morgan Hoffmann, who finished his second round about the same time as Guan did, said what the eighth-grader was doing "is unbelievable. You know, The Masters and then here, it's awesome. ...
"I hope he understands what he's doing, because everybody out here is following him."
Last year, Guan stayed in the New Orleans area for a month while working on his golf game. He said he was glad to see the big, supportive crowds.
"I'm not too surprised because I came here last year and I have some friends here," Guan said. "So I think I would play pretty good golf."
Two weeks ago, Guan made the cut as the youngest competitor Masters history en route to claiming Low Amateur honors.
Guan Tianlang carded an even-par 72 in his opening round at TPC Louisiana.
By Brian Allee-Walsh, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- Chinese teenage sensation Guan Tianlang announced Thursday that he plans to play in a U.S. Open qualifier in the Dallas area in two weeks. In the meantime, he is focused on making the cut at this week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
The 14-year-old amateur posted even-par 72 in Thursday's opening round played in favorable conditions at TPC Louisiana, leaving him tied for 85th. He’ll likely have to shoot a red number Friday to make the cut at the 7,341-yard Pete Dye layout.
Guan sits eight shots off the lead held by Ricky Barnes, who tied a course record with a sizzling 8-under 64.
"I think I played pretty good golf,'' said Guan, who became the youngest player to make a cut in Masters Tournament history two weeks ago. "Not the best, but I made some up and downs. This is a little bit different than the Masters. But it's a really big one, too.''
Guan said heavy rains softened the course, which allowed the 156-player field to play under lift, clean and place rules.
"It's pretty wet today,'' he said. "The course is not very hard but it's still challenging.''
With 84 players in red numbers after 18 holes, Round 2 promises to be compelling.
Asked if he thought he would make the cut, Guan replied: "If I play good.''
Henrik Norlander, who played in Guan’s group that also included Justin Bolli, said he continues to be impressed by the young player.
"I live in Augusta and he came in early and practiced at my golf club,'' Norlander said. "He's impressive, hitting 5-woods everywhere and hybrids. He could have shot better than even-par, too. He's extremely a good chipper.
"What's impressive is he just comes out here and is not afraid at all. Hitting the shots is extremely impressive. But he looks like's been playing out here for a few years.''
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Guan Tianlang's goals as he plays in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans are not unlike the ones the talented 14-year-old had two weeks ago when he made his debut at Augusta National.
"I want to enjoy the week like in the Masters and, hopefully, make the cut," Guan said. "If not, it's still a great experience. I hope to play good scores out there."
Guan, who became the youngest to win low amateur honors at the Masters, knows he faces a different challenge this week with a field of 156 players rather than the more limited one at the Masters. Making birdies will be essential, too -- the cut was 2 under a year ago as opposed to 4 over at Augusta National.
"Probably," Guan agreed. "It's a challenging golf course, but it depends on the weather and where they put the tees and the pins. So it's not an easy week too.
At 7,341 yards, TPC Louisiana will present another challenge for the slender Guan, who averages about 250 yards off the tee. He managed to shoot four rounds in the 70s at the Masters, though, and didn't have a three-putt or a score over bogey so it's clear the teen can hold his own.
"I think this is also a big course for me," acknowledged Guan, who tied for first in putting at the Masters. "I need to putt it good I think. And I should play really good woods to make the cut and go further, but I still need to play a really good couple of rounds."
He should see some familiar faces in the crowd, though, after spending a month in New Orleans last summer.
"I came here last year and practiced here in some golf courses at ... Lakewood, and we started to get some friends in Lakewood," Guan said, adding that he appreciates the support. "I take part in the golf clinic last year too and helped teach the little kids. It's a lot of fun there."
Guan said he wasn't sure about his schedule. He might go back to China after competing in New Orleans but he does plan to try to qualify for the U.S. Open.
SUNDAY: Stay tuned for Billy Horschel's winner's press conference.
All interviews will be streamed on PGATOUR.COM.
Tuesday, April 23
Guan Tianlang, 3 p.m. ET
Wednesday, April 24
Jason Dufner, 10 a.m. ET
Justin Rose, 3:30 p.m. ET
Bubba Watson, after pro-am
Guan Tianlang will follow up his Masters appearance by playing the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. (Redington/Getty Images)
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur from China who made history by making the cut at the Masters, has accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 25-28.
Last summer, Guan spent a month in New Orleans, staying with a family friend and practicing for a U.S. Open qualifier. He also took part in a junior golf program at Lakewood Golf Club.
"It's great for me to come back here and play in the Zurich Classic," Guan said Thursday during a teleconference call. "... I really wanted to play in this event."
Steve Worthy, CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, made the announcement earlier this week.
“The Fore!Kids Foundation, host organization of the Zurich Classic, is all about benefiting youth,” Worthy said. “(Guan) represents the aspirations of millions of young golfers and golf fans of all ages worldwide.”
Guan became the youngest player to compete in the Masters and then made the cut on the number, the only one of six amateurs to make the cut. As a result, he was awarded the Silver Cup as low amateur and participated in the post-tournament ceremony with winner Adam Scott in the Butler Cabin.
Guan qualified for the Masters by winning the fourth-annual Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last November, where he was also the youngest player in the field. His four-round score of 15 under secured a one-stroke victory over a high-quality field in Thailand.
The eighth-grader said he was happy with his performance at Augusta National.
"It was a really good experience to play in the Masters," he said.
Zurich Insurance Group, title sponsor of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, was a founding corporate partner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2009.
"We are proud to partner with the Masters Tournament and The R&A to support the growth of the game in Asia and around the world through our sponsorship of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship," said Martin Senn, CEO of Zurich. “(Guan)'s victory in Thailand in November and his historic achievement last week at Augusta National Golf Club are truly remarkable. We are excited to have him join us."
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship began four years ago with the backing of the Masters and The R&A and exempts the winner into the year's first major and into the finals of International Final Qualifying for The Open Championship. Guan follows a great heritage of champions in the event’s four-year history -- including Hideki Matsayama, the winner in 2010 and 2011 and the low amateur at the 2011 Masters Tournament.
Two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw described Guan best after playing the first two rounds with him at Augusta National: “He stays well within himself. He's very confident and his thought process never got rushed. Very patient. Very impressive. (Guan) played about four of the most delicate pitches you have ever seen.”
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