Golf

Chinese teen dazzles Masters

Image: Golfer Tianlang Guan (© Jack Gruber/USA Today Sports)
Chinese teen Tianlang Guan found Augusta to his liking on Thursday.
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No surprise that the first two letters of the first name of one of the Masters' big stories on Thursday are Ti.

The shock is that it isn’t Tiger Woods. The spotlight stealer in the opening round was Tianlang Guan.

All the Chinese teen did was shoot a one-over-par 73, finishing with a flourish by knocking in a birdie from the fringe on 18.

He may not win the tournament, but he’s already won over the gallery and his competition.

“He’s still growing,” said 61-year-old former Masters champ Ben Crenshaw, who played with the phenom and shot an 80. “I can see him hitting the ball further, and he handled some of those short shorts really well.”

The most challenging part of the first 18 holes were the par-4s, which cost the 5-foot-8, 140-pound Guan all five of his bogeys.

Tianlang qualified by leading the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. He has bigger dreams.

"Hopefully I can win the four majors in one year," he said after 18 holes at Augusta.

When the eighth-grader was asked whether he would be hitting the books or studying the course, he replied, "Golf, just golf."

Rory McIlroy suggested the possibilities are limitless.

"You're playing in the Masters at 14. He could potentially play, I don't know, 60 Masters," McIlroy said.

Now, Guan can hope to shoot a round in the 60s. He's well on his way.

If he plays this way Friday, Guan could set another record as the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters.

''I'm telling you, he played like a veteran today,'' Crenshaw said. ''Played a beautiful round of golf. He stays well within himself. He's very confident and, obviously, beautiful hands. His thought process never got rushed. Very patient. Very, very, very impressive.''

Despite the big stage, Guan sounded like he fit right in with the sport's best.

''I felt a little bit nervous on the first tee,'' Guan said. ''But I hit a great tee shot and, after that, everything feels comfortable. ... I just had fun today. Pretty much fun.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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