Time for Guan Tianlang to get back to his homework. He already gets an A for his first Masters.
The 14-year-old Chinese golfer wrapped up a memorable debut at Augusta National by shooting a 3-over 75 in the final round Sunday, his experience not dampened in the least by a debated one-stroke penalty for slow play.
”It’s such a great week for me,” said Guan, the youngest player to make the cut at a major in the PGA era. ”I learned a lot.”
As the leaders prepared to tee off on an overcast day, some of the early finishers put up impressive scores – a sign the greens weren’t as slick as usual, setting up the potential for quite a shootout on a crowded leaderboard.
Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera were tied for the top spot at 7-under 209, one stroke ahead of Adam Scott, trying to become the first Australian to win the green jacket.
If Scott can’t do it, a couple of his countrymen might give it a run. Jason Day, a runner-up two years ago, and Marc Leishman began the round two shots off the lead.
And don’t forget Tiger Woods. The four-time Masters champion was just four shots back, a margin that would’ve been even closer if not for a two-stroke penalty for an improper drop.
Among those going out in the morning, Michael Thompson shot a 67, Ryo Ishakawa and Ryan Moore posted 68s, while Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley signed for 69s.
But it was a forgettable Masters for three-time winner Phil Mickelson. He closed with a 73 for a 297 – the second-worst score he’s ever posted at Augusta when making the cut. He had a 299 six years ago, but that was in much tougher conditions.
Guan was never a contender to win, but his performance over four days was truly remarkable for the youngest player by far to play the Masters. He never had a three-putt on Augusta’s perilous greens – well, he counts one from off the green – and his worst hole was a bogey.
”I played pretty good,” he said. ”I feel a little bit tired today. There are still a lot of things to improve. My short game’s good, but I still need to be better. My driver probably needs to be a little longer.”
Guan made a couple of birdies on the back side, but took a bogey at No. 17 after knocking at shot into a spectator’s plastic bag. At the final hole, he two-putted from about 40 feet for a 12-over 300, receiving a big cheer from the gallery and a handshake from Augusta National chairman Billy Payne.
Guan can’t take any prize money since he’s an amateur. But he’ll get a silver cup as the only amateur to make the cut.
There are no plans to turn pro anytime soon.
”It won’t be too early because there are still a lot of things to learn, to improve,” Guan said. ”So nothing to rush.”