Teen golfer Guan Tianlang in no rush to go pro

Teen golfer Guan Tianlang in no rush to go pro

China's teenage Masters sensation may be the sport's 'forgotten man' but he says with time on his side there's no need to hurry

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Guan Tianlang made a record-breaking Masters debut in 2013.
Guan Tianlang made a record-breaking Masters debut in 2013.
Photo: AP

Many Hongkongers will identify with China's Guan Tianlang - he has put education ahead of his golfing career. Tianlang, who played in the Shenzhen International last week, made a record-breaking Masters debut in 2013.

Aged 14 years and five months, Tianlang was the youngest golfer to play a major and made the cut at the most prestigious golf tournament in the US. He finished as the tournament's leading amateur with a four-round total of 12 over par, 21 strokes behind the winner Adam Scott of Australia.

However, a low-key approach to his career since has seen him become an almost forgotten figure in the sport.

Tianlang admitted there had then been suggestions to turn professional, but his education had to come first.

No rush to turn pro

"The idea of me turning pro was just other people talking," he said at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen last week. "I knew I would be just going back to school. I am happy to take things slowly as I know I have time on my side. There's no need to hurry."

Tianlang said watching the 21-year-old Jordan Spieth storm his way to a record-equalling 18 under par at this year's Masters had brought back fond memories.

"It was the best week of my career so far [in 2013]," said Tianlang, who is now 16. "I learned a lot from the best players in the world and it really built my confidence. This is something I can carry around forever."

Tianlang had turned to three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo for advice before his debut at Augusta National Golf Club, in Georgia.

But nothing could have fully prepared him for what lay in store - practice rounds with Tiger Woods and Ben Crenshaw, constant media attention, and a harsh one-stroke penalty for slow play during the second round.

"I was just focused on my game and thinking about the things I could control," said Tianlang. "There is so much going on, that it is important not to lose focus. I was trying to play my own game but also learn from everything and everyone I saw around me."

Hitting the gym

Tianlang said he had looked on in awe at the distances some of the Masters competitors hit the ball, so as well as hitting the books at Guangzhou Zhixin Middle School, he has been taking to the gym to try to match it with the big guns.

"I'm feeling pretty good," said Tianlang. "I have been training pretty hard on the golf course and in the gym. I'm feeling pretty comfortable now. I think I am hitting the ball a lot further now ... from work in the gym, not on my swing. My short game and putting are my strengths at the moment."

Tianlang said that until he graduates from secondary school he will continue to pick up tournament places via amateur qualification and sponsor invites. He made the cut at his previous European Tour event, the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in January, finishing at one over par.

"I have been mixing it up - next week I play the Volvo China Open in Shanghai and then a few European Tour events and maybe a few on the China Tour," he said.

"I still have to go to school so I just don't want to play too much. At this stage of my life I have to plan for a long career ahead of me."

Agence France-Presse

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
A waiting game

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