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Guan continues to impress in US

China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-30 08:59

Guan Tianlang is finding his groove by playing in significant golf events in the United States.

Three weeks ago he wowed the golfing world with a fine performance at the Masters. Last week he made the cut in the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and finished in 71st place at 4-over par.

He is now the youngest player to ever make a cut in a PGA Tour event. He passes the previous PGA Tour record set by Bob Panasik in the 1957 Canadian Open. Panasik was one year older than 14-year-old Guan.

"I'm not too surprised because I came here last year and I have some friends here," Guan said of making the cut at TPC Louisiana. "So I thought I would play pretty good golf."

But let's not take too lightly his accomplishments. It had never been done in the Masters, yet Guan did it. It also had never been done at his age in a PGA Tour event, yet Guan calmly continued his historic run.

Guan continues to impress in US

Guan Tianlang of China chips to the 18th green during the third round of the PGA Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana, on Saturday. Gerald Herbert / Associated Press

Guan originally came to New Orleans last spring to compete in a US Open local qualifier. It was held at Lakewood Golf Club where Guan spent much time practicing and getting to know the people at the club. Guan's 14-year-old fellow Chinese golf phenom, Andy Zhang, ultimately qualified for America's national championship, Guan did not. However, Guan remains familiar with Lakewood and last week spent time with Jimmy Headrick, the director of instruction at the club.

On the Saturday before the Zurich Classic, Guan took part in a youth golf clinic at Lakewood, teaching about 100 children marginally younger than him the fundamentals of the game.

So what is Guan's next move? Qualifing for the next major championship, of course.

"I'm going to play in Dallas, I think," Guan said. "And try to make it. One of the biggest things is to make the US Open, too."

Guan will compete in the final stage of US Open qualifying this year at Lakewood Country Club in Dallas, Texas on June 3. Guan's win at last year's Asia-Pacific Amateur grants him entrance into the final stage of qualifying for the season's second major.

Justin Bolli, a PGA Tour professional who played with Guan the first two days at the Zurich Classic, sees Guan as having the deportment of a PGA Tour player.

"He just seems like another one of the guys out here, which is a big compliment," Bolli told China Daily. "He's incredibly composed. You don't even really think he's 14, you know?"

Guan's other playing partner during his first two rounds, Henrik Norlander, of Sweden, had a similar observation.

"To me it seems like he's been out here a few years," Norlander said. "It's hard to believe this is his second event (pro in the US). He just does his thing, which is really impressive."

Guan wowed the patrons at Augusta National with his sky-high approaches into many of the greens and with his utility and fairway woods, and he brought that same skill to TPC Louisiana.

"He has tremendous place control, obviously, and can hit a 5 wood as close as anyone can hit a 7 or 8 iron," Norlander said.

"He's really good coming into the greens with a 3 wood and a 5 wood," Bolli said. "He hit a lot of shots close from 220 yards, it was pretty impressive."

Bolli sees Guan's short game, chipping and putting, as his greatest strength.

"His chipping is just really impressive," he said. "He hit a lot of shots that looked like they were going to go in. With putts, from 10 feet and in, it seemed like he made almost most everything."

But how does the TPC Louisiana course compare to Augusta National?

"I would say it's a little easier," Guan said.

"But it's still difficult to play on this course with lower scores."

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