Tianlang Guan walked off the 18th hole and posed for a photograph with Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and Peter Dawson, secretary of the R&A. It was a fitting way to end a heady week for Guan, who proved the Asia-Pacific Amateur initiative to be worthwhile with his gutsy performance.
Guan, 14, became the youngest player to ever make the cut at the Masters and the youngest to win low-amateur honors. Three of the four Asia-Pacific champions have now made the cut here.
“It’s actually the most difficult course in the world,” said Guan, when asked if he felt Augusta National got easier for him as the week went on. Guan shot 73-75-77-75 to finish 12 over. He never made worse than bogey. He also never had a three-putt. He headed to the clubhouse leading the field in putting.
Before Guan made history here at the Masters, the family planned to head back to China. Now that invitations to play have started coming in, however, his schedule is uncertain. Guan wouldn’t elaborate on his tournament options.
When asked about his long-term plans on turning professional, Guan said there’s no need to rush.
“I’ve not decided yet,” he said. “But it won’t be too early because there’s still a lot of things to learn to improve.”
Guan said earlier in the week that he brought homework with him to Augusta. When asked if he was able to keep up with it, he said “probably tonight,” and then smiled.
He got the whole press room laughing when a reporter asked “What classes do you take?”
“(In) China, you didn’t take class; they give you the class,” he said. “So there’s a lot.”
As for his shot of the week, Guan gave the nod to the 60-foot par putt he drained on No. 18 Saturday, though he had several impressive performances on 18. On Sunday, the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the green. He tossed his ball into the gallery.
The next time Guan tees it up in the Masters, he’s not likely to finish last in driving distance, as he did this week. He’ll be stronger, likely taller and some high-profile instructor will have that flat swing more upright. There’s much to look forward to from this young kid.
Earlier in the week, Guan said he hoped to come back to Augusta and win the Green Jacket. When might that happen?
“As soon as possible,” he said.