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."
By Brian Allee-Walsh, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- After a quick, solitary stroll around TPC Louisiana, 28-year-old Luke List found himself with oodles of time on his hands mid-morning Saturday.
"What time is it? 10 o'clock,'' he said after completing his third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in a rapid 2 hours, 43 minutes. "I'm going to go practice and maybe go to the Zurich tent a little later and hob-nob with those guys.
"Maybe, I'll check out the Jazz Fest and just kind of relax a little bit.''
List went off the first tee solo at 8:15 a.m. ET Saturday after becoming the last weekend qualifier with a birdie-par finish late Friday. By doing so, he climbed to 3 under and became the 71st player to qualify for the weekend, counting Chinese teenage phenom Guan Tianlang who also hit the cut line on the nose.
By getting to 3 under, List eliminated 22 players who were lurking at 2 under and hoping to be part of a PGA TOUR record 93-player field on the weekend.
"I luckily dodged most everybody in the clubhouse and I kind of did the same thing at my hotel,'' List said. "But I got some funny texts from Jeff Overton and Roberto Castro, guys who were at 3-under. They were very thankful to be playing twosomes. Although TV does better with threesomes, guys really like twosomes because we play quicker and make more money.''
List acknowledged that he probably had a few detractors who were sitting at 2 under but declined to name them.
"Golf is a pretty classy sport,'' he said, smiling. "But I'm sure a few people were dog-cussing me under their breath. But I know most of the guys at 2 under pretty well and am good friends.
"Vice versa, if I was in their shoes, I'd probably hate it for the time being but it all comes out in the wash. We're all out here every week. It's one cut but they'll be back out here next week.''
List shot a bogey-free 4-under 68 Saturday and climbed from last at 71st to a temporary tie for sixth at 6-under 210 before free-falling back down the leaderboard once players behind him starting posting their scores.
"It's the first time I played by myself as a pro,'' List said. "It was relaxing and fun out there, just me and my caddie (Jeff King). It's not a great consolation prize to be last after 36 holes but I handled it well. If I have to do it again I'll know what to expect.
"Hopefully, I'll be in the pack by the end of the day and have another good round tomorrow.''
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 Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- Lucas Glover has a trio of stats he can be proud of at the halfway mark of Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He leads the tournament with 16 birdies. He leads the tournament with 1.36 putts for every green in regulation and most importantly: he leads the tournament at 12 under.
It has not been a good year on the greens for Glover. He ranks 182nd in strokes gained-putting but when he’s hit a green this week, he has converted. A good number for Glover fans to remember on Saturday: He ranks T17 on TOUR in third-round scoring average at 69.5,
Boom: Boo Weekley wanted a fast start to his second round and delivered. He holed a wedge from 105 yards at the 10th hole -- his opening hole -- to take the lead early on. Weekley said he was a little disappointed in that he did not see it go into the cup and did not believe he made eagle until he walked up and saw just two balls on the green. Weekley was 4 under until making bogeys at the sixth and eighth when he said he lost a little focus. Boo rallied for a birdie on the final hole and said he planned a long nap on Friday because he might have eaten too many “mudbugs” the previous evening.
Kid stuff: Guan Tianlang’s second round was remarkable. Consider how long the course played for him. Guan hit utility wood into the 179-yard ninth hole. Most players used 6-iron. That’s at least a two-club difference. Now factor his drive into the equation, which is some 25 yards shorter than average. That means he loses two clubs off the tee and two clubs on his approach. Every hole plays four clubs longer for the teenager and yet Guan qualified for the weekend. Remarkable.
Mudballs: TPC Louisiana received more than six inches of water in the last week and still the course is in fantastic shape. It drained well enough to play the ball down on Friday and golf balls started to release. There were some occasions where mud clung to the ball, making approaches a guessing game. Boo Weekley had a mud ball on his approach into the sixth green which helped lead to bogey.
Birdie boy: Bubba Watson did not play well on Thursday and bogeyed the opening hole of the second round to fall outside the top 100 in the tournament. He responded with eight birdies to shoot 63 and get back into contention at 6 under. Watson made birdie on the par-3, 14th hole when he hit a 208-yard seven iron and followed that with a 21-foot putt. I don’t know what was more impressive: the 7-iron or the putt.
Aggressive: Morgan Hoffmann has not had a good year and yet he did not hesitate to go for the 18th green with his second shot from 263 yards. Hoffmann reasoned he had been hitting his 3-wood well and if he hit a bad shot into the water, he would still be able to save par with a chip and a putt. His 3-wood came up just short of the green, a chip and putt later, Hoffmann had posted a 69 to enter the weekend in fourth place. Fortune favors the brave. Hoffmann stands 9 under and can post his best ever PGA TOUR finish this weekend.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion whose last TOUR victory came at the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship, carded a 5-under 67 Friday to take a one-shot lead over Boo Weekley at the halfway point of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
D.A. Points is alone in third at 10 under while Morgan Hoffmann and Ernie Els checked in at 8 and 9 under respectively following Friday play.
Glover had three bogeys on his scorecard Friday but bounced back with birdies to follow each one. He finished his round with an 18-foot birdie conversion that got him to his 12-under 132 total.
Former champion Bubba Watson rebounded from his opening 73 with a 7-under 65 -- the day’s best round -- to move inside the top 15 on the leaderboard. Watson bogeyed the first and made the turn at 1 under but added birdies on Nos. 10, 11, 13, 14, 16 and 18 to card his impressive number.
Friday’s spotlight, however, may have belonged to 14-year-old amateur Guan Tianlang. After making the cut two weeks ago at the Masters Tournament, Guan matched the feat in New Orleans, carding a 3-under 69 Friday to enter the weekend tied for 57th.
The cut came at 3 under with 71 players finishing at that number or better. Among those missing out on weekend play were Cameron Tringale (-2), Ben Crane (-2), Keegan Bradley (-1), Mike Weir (E) and Jordan Spieth (+1).
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.
By Brian Allee-Walsh, PGATOUR.com Correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- Dropping a 14-foot birdie putt on his finishing hole Friday made lunch much more enjoyable for Ernie Els at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
It completed a round of 3-under 69 and left him lurking four shots off the lead held by Lucas Glover at 12-under 132.
Els' birdie at No. 9, a 179-yard par 3, was his sixth of the round.
"Yeah, it will help, especially after missing a 3-footer on 8,'' Els said. "I kind of fought hard all day. I had a couple really bad holes in the middle of my round. But I tried to stick in there, and obviously that one on my 18th hole will bring us back.''
Els made the turn at 3-under for his round before encountering trouble on the front nine (his back side). He posted bogeys at Nos. 1, 3 and 6 but closed with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to stay in contention.
Last year in New Orleans, Els lost to Jason Dufner on the second hole of a playoff.
"I like the course,'' said Els, who sandwiched missed cuts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard and RBC Heritage around a T13 at the Masters. "I obviously played well here last year, and I'm just trying to set that same gameplan and really wait for the course to come to me.''
Meanwhile, Zurich Classic officials have designated Saturday as "Blue Out'' day as part of Autism Awareness month. Players and fans are encouraged to wear blue to the event and join the World Golf Hall of Famer and four-time major champion’s foundation "Els for Autism,'' in showing support for those affected by autism spectrum disorders.
"Since Leizl and I announced that our son Ben was touched by autism five years ago, we have been blown away by the support we have received, especially from the golf community,'' he said. "We are extremely touched by this support from the Zurich Classic whose team is helping our efforts to use golf as a platform to shine a light on Autism.''