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April 14 2013

3:15 PM

Guan pleased by performance

Guan Tianlang closed with a solid 65 at the Masters on Sunday.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Guan Tianlang finally might have time to do some homework tonight. The eighth-grader has been pretty busy, though, playing practice rounds with World Golf Hall of Famers and making the cut at the 77th Masters Tournament.

The 14-year-old from China earned an invitational to the season's first major when he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur last year. He'll leave with a ton of memories, as well as the silver bowl that goes to the low amateur.

Asked if he was impressed by his accomplishment, Guan smiled.

"It's not easy to play here, to make the cut and be low amateur," he said. "I think I did a pretty good job this week and can't believe it's over."

Guan's week started in a practice round with the man he shyly calls "Mr. Ben Crenshaw," who also joined him in the first two rounds of competition. The Texan told the teen to "play my own game and have fun" and that's exactly what he did.

A slow-play penalty on Friday caused some anxious moments as Guan finished 36 holes on the cut line. Had Jason Day, playing in the final group, birdied one of his last two holes, Guan would have been among those eliminated.

When the Aussie parred in, though, Guan knew he'd be around for the weekend, and as the lone amateur making the cut he'll be visiting the Butler Cabin for an interview on CBS at the end of Sunday's broadcast. 

"It's such a great week for me and I enjoy it so far and learned a lot," said Guan, who shot rounds of 73-75-77-75 and never made anything higher than a bogey on one of the game's most demanding courses.

Guan isn't sure when he'll return to China. He said he has some invitations to consider -- although he declined to be more specific. He also is considering trying to qualify for the U.S. Open. Regardless, don't look for him to join the pro ranks any time soon.

"I've not decided yet, but it won't be too early because there's still a lot of things to learn to improve," Guan said. "So nothing to rush."

Guan said he was most nervous when he was standing on the first tee on Thursday -- "but just a little bit," the remarkably poised teen said. "I didn't feel too bad. And I hit a great tee shot and then just do my routine and just take like a normal shot."

Guan will need to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur to get a return trip to Georgia. But he has his sights set on a much bigger prize -- Guan said earlire in the week he thinks he can with the Masters someday.

"As soon as possible," Guan said with a smile.

Until then, there's still lots to savor. Guan took several minutes to think when someone asked what stood out the most about his week in Augusta.

"I would say, I think this is my first time to play in front of all the people here, all the Patrons, and they were really nice to me and I appreciate them coming here watching me," Guan said. "I mean, that's very nice."

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