Guan ready to defend Asia-Pacific Amateur title

Guan Tianlang during the second round of the Memorial Tournament.

Guan Tianlang during the second round of the Memorial Tournament.

Tianlang Guan, the Chinese teen who made headlines at the 2013 Masters, is back to defend his title at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship on Oct. 24-27 at Nanshan International Golf Club in Shandong, China.

Guan, 14, finished 58th at the Masters and made two of five cuts on the PGA Tour during the 2013 season. He became the youngest golfer to play in the Masters and make a cut on the PGA Tour.

Guan’s week was almost spoiled at Augusta National by a one-stroke slow-play penalty during the first round. He made the 36-hole cut on the number.

“I respect what they did with me. I respect the referee. It was a really good experience for me. I learned from that and (now) pay more attention to it,” Guan said during a conference call Tuesday. “I think I should thank (the rules official) for it.”

Months after his accomplishments, Guan returns to China more fit and ready to defend his championship.

“After winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur last year and playing the Masters, it gives me more confidence for myself and I can know how the Tour and the Masters runs," he said. "I am more confident. I learned so much.”

Guan has gained international recognition since returning to China and has used that to his advantage by helping expose the game to more players his age.

He hopes to earn a sponsor exemption into the WGC-HSBC Champions on Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Shanghai, but not before playing a skills challenge with World No. 1 Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. (Read more about the skills challenge)

For now, Guan has no immediate plans to turn professional.

As for his game, he added that he is using a conventional putter instead of the belly putter that he used at the Masters.

“I didn’t think it was that much different," he said. "I changed back a month ago."

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