Masters in sight for 14-year-old
Could we see a teenager in the Masters next year?
China’s Guan Tianlang, who turned 14 last week, shot 6-under-par 66 Thursday at Thailand's Amata Spring Country Club to take the first-round lead at the Asia-Pacific Amateur. The tournament’s winner earns an invitation to the 2013 Masters.
Guan is two shots ahead of New Zealand’s Daniel Pearce, who shot 5-under 31 on his back nine to post 68.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, winner of the past two Asia-Pacific Amateurs, opened with 71 and is in 10th place. Matsuyama, No. 7 in the R&A World Amateur Ranking, has made the cut in the past two Masters.
Guan made eight birdies and two bogeys on Thursday in Bangkok, Thailand. He bogeyed the par-4 18th to keep from taking an even larger lead.
“My putting was fantastic today. The course is outstanding, and I felt really good,” said Guan, who’s making his debut in this championship.
In 2011, Guan romped to an 11-stroke victory in the 11-12 division in the Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego before becoming the youngest-ever winner of the China Amateur Open in November. At this year’s Volvo China Open in April, the Guangzhou-based schoolboy made global headlines by becoming the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event.
Other notable scores:
• US Amateur quarterfinalist Oliver Goss is tied for 6 after shooting 2-under 70.
• Oregon’s Jonathan Woo is tied for 10th after shooting 71, including an eagle on the par-5 11th hole.
• UCLA All-American Anton Arboleda shot 73 and is tied for 19th.
• Washington sophomore Cheng-Tsung Pan, No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, opened with 75 and is in 35th place. Pan made the turn in even-par, but shot 3-over 39 on his back nine.
• Rico Hoey, who beat Beau Hossler at this year’s Junior World and has made a verbal commitment to USC, also shot 75.
• US Junior champion Andy Hyeon Bo Shim shot 77 and is tied for 49th.