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« "Is Augusta National doing the right thing having events that qualify 14 year olds into the event?" | Main | Holy Toledo: The World Golf Championships Add An Event Outside The U.S.! »

14 And Headed Down Magnolia Lane: "The latest example of what might happen should China embrace golf other than superficially."

Guan Tianlang, all of 14 for two weeks now, is headed to the 2013 Masters thanks to his one-shot win in the Asia Pacific Amateur.

John Strege wonders what it'll all mean for golf in China.

Thus Guan will become the second Chinese 14-year-old to play in a major championship in a 10-month period. In June, Andy Zhang played in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. What each also has in common is that they train, at least part of the year, in Florida.

Golf remains largely an elitist sport in China, though it is growing; the number of courses there has increased from 170 to nearly 600 in the last eight years, according to a story by China Daily. We asked Dan Washburn, an expert on golf in China and a contributor to Golf Digest and Golf World for his thoughts on what impact Guan might have on Chinese golf.

Farrell Evans also tries to put some perspective on this amazing accomplishment.

You can follow Tianlang on Twitter here.

And here's the limited Sportscenter highlight package:

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Reader Comments (53)

Can you say diving, gymnastics, soccer...? Good on Guan Tianlang! Maybe golf will complete the final eclipse of Mao. And provide Jack's children with something to do. Win, win.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Congratulations! And with 2 stroke penalty for those pants, at that! :)
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Amazing. He and Lydia Ko are abviously too young to know that nerves are supposed to come into play on final days in big events. They have time to learn that fundamental aspect of golf however (grin). Congrats to him!!
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveAndrews
And still no invite for the NCAA champ.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
Billy Payne and Joe Ford really went all the way there? I realize their endgame has almost everything to do with growing the game there so they make more money from their TV contract but I'm still somewhat impressed that they flew (literally) halfway around the world to be there in person.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Urann
the Masters already invites two NCAA champs--name the last winner of either the APL or the Amateur who wasn't under 22?
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Guan was the only one I saw on TV using a belly putter at this tournament.

The People's Academy of Golf might have a dilemma with the newly incubated junior golfers if the rules change anytime soon.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob
That's a long trip to shoot 78-77.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJSS
@ Rob ... seems the governing bodies concerns about youngsters going straight to the belly putter can now add substance to their claim.

If, as has already been alluded to (on here, I think) the pros bring in a ban from next year instead of waiting for the next rules change, could present a few problems for Master Guan. Not such a problem if you're playing in the monthly medal but ... The Masters at Augusta? Crivvens!!!
Spoke last night to an official who saw most of this first hand. He said Guan hits it like a decent LPGA player but is the best putter he's ever seen. Guan is on record as saying that he feels 'more comfortable' with the belly putter. Me thinks that a swag of Chinese players wielding belly putters and holing everything is not necessarily good for the game....
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterIanB
According to Golf Digest....kid has been playing tournament golf in the US since he was 6 years old....trains in Florida "at least part of the year"....plays an international schedule....wonder who his parents are? Where does the money come from?
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Just like when Yao Ming opened the basketball floodgates? I do wonder about the shade of red on Nike's new driver...
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Corner
@DTF You can only play golf in China if you're very wealthy. Same as Japan.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterIanB
@Amen Corner - what basketball floodgates? There are currently zero players from the People's Republic of China playing in the NBA.

Zero, bumpkis, nada.

Yi Jianlian was the last - he is now playing in the Chinese professional league (he is also known for lying about his age, and in cahoots with the Chinese governing body, in order stay in the junior ranks longer where he was dominant player - maybe golfer Guan Tianlang is a diminutive sized 20 year old for all we know).
@IanB brings up an interesting point. We are seeing in Guan the best of the offspring rich parents in Mainland China.

However, golf champions usually rise from relatively humble beginnings - that is a much wider natural talent pool.

As a result, we get multi-major champions like a pot-bellied Argentinian to started in the caddie shack or overly goofy Irish golfer who played on the local policeman's course because that is what his father did for a living.

The manufactured rich kid golfers like Charles Howell and Casey Wittenburg have always underwhelmed compared to their original hype.

Who is the most successful manufactured rich kid golfer? Hal Sutton maybe?

The kid in the PRC who has the most natural talent for golf probably lives in one of the poor interior provinces and had to quit school to help the family survive after the local Communist party chief confiscated the family's land to sell to a property developer. No chance for him. But if there was, Chinese golfers would be a real threat at every major.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
China has 'embraced'Soccer and Basketball..and we see only a few Stars. Equipment makers want access to China. Expect the Media to run wild with this as everyone is ga ga for Asia exposure.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGolfNDaBay

Greatest rich kid golfers of all time are Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy

Re: Nicklaus

Pharmacists are rich?

I didn't know they could run with a crowd full of hedge fund managers and kleptocrat/oligarch Communist party members.

Wow! Seriously, wow! I never knew.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob
What did Jones' dad do? And did he personally finance Jones' golf development?
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
@GolfNDBay - My 13 yr old daughter goes to a public selective school in Sydney. 90% Asian background - predominantly Chinese. I can tell you first hand that the Asian's just don't have what it takes to play sports like basketball and soccer. That's not a racist comment - just fact. They have slim physical builds and generally don't have the strength to play traditional 'western' ball sports. Golf is different as it doesn't necessarily take a big build to produce a good golfer. So, if a higher % of Chinese are provided access to golf - look out as they definitely have a better work ethic (just like the South Koreans). But I stand by my first comment - not sure I'm a fan of 14 yr old's winning major amateur events with a belly putter. Hope they ban this anchoring thing shortly
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterIanB
BTW, here is how China's soccer development is coming along:
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
Smacking you need to learn how to read punctuation. A question mark is not a period or an exclamation point. I was saying exactly that. Thanks for the chat.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
Amen, your comment about Yao reads like a rhetorical question. Not like a sarcastic question.

Next time try this:

"Right, just like when Yao Ming opened the basketball floodgates?"

Glad I could help.

Your welcome.

And, thank YOU for the chat!
Smacking, sorry but you missed an obvious one.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
I wonder if PABoy was being sarcastic about pharmacists being rich, or if I missed something as well.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
Charlie Nicklaus owned three phamacies he was easily a 1%er unless he also had Jack's business acumen, Charlie was not dispensing pills.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
Also one of my fathers friends roomed with Nicklaus at the 1959 walker cup and he said Jack was on the phone with his stock broker while the other guys were playing cards and hanging out.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
@PABay - my second cousin owns two pharmacies and a travel agency - he is as middle class as it gets. I can't wait to tell him at Christmas dinner that he is a 1%er and has been bullshitting us!

You got any financial docs or stats regarding Charlie Nicklaus that I can show him as proof?
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
Thos was before Walgreens or CVS who would try to compete with them and think they could succeed? In 1960 greens keeper was a working class job now the superintendent is often the best paid person at a club.

How many middle class 19 year olds are trading stocks?
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
So, anyone who owned a couple of pharmacies in the 1950's was rich - as in the top 1% of all wealth holders at that time.

Okay then. Whatever you say.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
Oh your cousin also owns a travel agency that's another shit business today, ever hear of Expedia or Travelosity? No wonder he is middle class he picks poor businesses to run in 2012.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
@PABoy - well, you no doubt must be a huge mover and shaker who loves to waste time on golf blogs just for the hell of it.

So thankful that you have the time to enlighten us on the profitability of various business models.

BTW, I have heard of Travelocity, but so far Googling "Travelosity" has yielded nothing. Can your wisdom direct me to where I can find out more about Travelosity?
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
China encompasses many different ethnic groups and regions and the physiology varies widely. In general people in the north are taller and broader. Also several middle regions of china (Henan for example) have generally larger builds. Their are just too many of them to deny they can access enough of the physical talents to do anything. In general I would say they will excel at individual sports over team sports often because of various cultural issues. The larger issues with soccer include corruption which will not help develop talent. Often their is a reluctance to bring in foreign experts as well which would accelerate learning.
But if they want to put the government sports machine behind golf development, I suspect they will produce many fine golfers.
I live in china, and travel widely. What concerns me most is the lack of caddy access to golf. Even 10 years ago all the courses I played allowed/encouraged the caddies to learn. More recently many of the courses I play do not make practice time or the course available to them. Over the years I have met several caddies with only a few years experience who were single digit handicappers. They they we all under 25 years old.
Playing golf here is expensive, really expensive for the average Chinese person. But practicing at a range can be reasonably priced in many areas.
If the Chinese courses take up junior development it will also help. I learned golf in canada because the private club across the street from my school allowed us to access it's facilities for gym class. It helped two members of my class get US College scholarships.
Need more of that here.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKG
IanB, that's kind of what I was getting at in a roundabout way with my questions.

Obviously this kid is the child of some serious hitter....really serious. Seth Waugh's kid doesn't have anything on this Guan, and that's saying something.

Wonder if his Dad is one of the new gazillionaire entrepreneurs....or did he make his money the old fashioned way?

BTW, this is the same kid who earlier this year became youngest ever to tee it up in a Euro Tour event at age 13-and-a-little...
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Interesting aspect on rich kids, in general, do not have the same drive as a kid that comes from a more difficult background; and I agree. You see it not only in sport but in life as well. As an Asian-American who grew up in the States but have lived and worked in Asia for the last 10 years, I would guess that the so-called Korean and Chinese wave of golfers coming up in the next 10 years will be a wave of 30th to 100th ranking professionals in their respective tours as opposed to the Tiger Woods or Annika of the world. Their family are quite wealthy, their game of golf (course and club and equipments) are quite exclusive if not elitist. Even their training is at the upper echelons of Florida junior golf academies (as opposed to the pro at the local public/muni course). That being said, they are quite disciplined and work quite hard so I think they will be a common sight but as far as history making legends, I'm not going to hold my breath (sadly).
11.4.2012 | Unregistered Commenterminhvunguyen
An amazingly stunning contrast between the current US Amateur Champ and the newly crowned Asian Amateur Champ.

Steven Fox appears to have, as they say, dug it out of the dirt. Country boy from TN. From what I can he never played a tourney outside the southeast until he went to college.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I remember all the hype over Danny Lee a couple of years ago. Won the US Amateur at Pinehurst, was the youngest US Am winner ever at that time, was the only the 2nd amateur to win a European Tour event and the youngest ever to do so at that time.

Where is he now? A middling PGA Tour member with a Nationwide tour victory to his credit. Nice, but certainly no big deal.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHard by the Sea
Wow, two green coats at that trophy presentation.

Billy Payne, and whoever the other ANGC octogenarian is, must be salivating over the addition TV coverage in Mainland China for next year's Masters.

This was the sole reason they tossed freebie invites to Liang Wen Chong and Zhang Lian Wei over the years (although I kind of like Liang).
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
Just watched a good amount of the final round (DVR'd so I could move quickly through it). Some thoughts:

- Guan plays SLOW. Very deliberate.

- Belly putter and a Superstroke (oversized) grip. That is a lot of "help" for a young player. Doesn't bode well.

- He has a Matt Kuchar swing plane and a young guy hip thrust at unusual combination for a young player.

- Was it hot there, or was it just aversion to sun exposure...Guan and many others had umbrellas. The female caddies were wearing gloves, caps, long sleeve shirts and tights. So I am guessing minimizing sun exposure/tanning?

- Interesting to see all the ANGC guys as part of the action. Fred Ridley working the rules. One guy had an ANGC umbrella in tow...I guess he learned last year that it was a good idea?
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin part deux
ADG, I think that was Joe Ford, the Vice Chairman in Perpetuity. Usually the guy on the Toonament broadcast in a canned segment thanking the sponsors for limited commercial interruptions.
11.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin part deux

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