Guan so young, so confident entering Masters

By Jason SobelApril 5, 2013, 1:20 pm

It sounds like one of those classic old Johnny Carson jokes. “Tianlang Guan is so young …”

“How young is he?” the crowd asks in unison, anticipating the punch line.

“Tianlang Guan is so young … that when Tiger Woods won his first green jacket, he wasn’t even born yet!”

Funny, right? In a way, yes. But that’s no punch line. Guan, who will soon become the youngest competitor in Masters history, was born on Oct. 25, 1998, which means he wasn’t even a glint in his parents’ eyes when Woods first became a major champion.

If that doesn’t make you feel old, then you’re probably doing the same geometry homework as him right now.

“I can't fathom that,” Steve Stricker says when asked about competing against a fellow player who’s nearly the same age as his oldest daughter. “It's hard to comprehend that they're that good at such an early age, but kids get started early nowadays.”


Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos


At 14, the boy affectionately called Langley is getting started earlier at Augusta National than anyone before him. He’s more than two years younger than Matteo Manassero was in 2010, back when we were doing similar head-shaking about a kid who hadn’t yet turned 17.

In an era when teenagers are competing in majors, qualifying for PGA Tour membership and winning LPGA titles, it’s easy to become desensitized to exactly what Guan is accomplishing at such a young age, but let’s not take for granted that the kid will be competing in the world’s most celebrated golf tournament long before he can ever apply for a learner’s permit to drive.

Asked in an email interview to gauge his excitement level, and you can almost feel his smile beaming through the inbox: “To be the youngest player in the history of the Masters, I feel very honored, excited and looking forward to it. I know I will enjoy it very much. Also, I very appreciate for everything my parents have done for me; it has been a long journey to them as well.”

As for what would make Masters week a success, he sounds wise beyond his years.

“It is an honor for me to be able to play with the best golfers in the world. To me, the only goal is to enjoy the event and give my best. And of course, if I can make the cut, that would be even better!”

It’s a lofty goal for the Asian Amateur Championship winner, who will have plenty of supporters rooting for him, but just as many guarded with skepticism.

Chances are, Guan may know Arnold Palmer solely as “that dude from the video game,” but the four-time Masters champion, who is 69 years his elder, sounds a bit worried that such weighty pressure could cause more harm than good for the kid.

“I'm not so sure that it isn't more of a detriment than it is a plus for him,” Palmer bluntly states. “I think that if he had a little more experience and a little more time to play the game and play in competition, that he might want to wait a little longer to attack something like Augusta. But as far as the rules and the club (are) concerned, if he can qualify, let him have at it.”

He’ll be having at it on the most prestigious, pristine turf the game knows, for at least 36 holes, in the spotlight throughout. While media coverage – and scrutiny – will be in full force here in the U.S. when he tees it up Thursday, it will be nothing compared with the wall-to-wall analysis he’ll receive from outlets in his native China.

It remains to be seen whether he can walk the walk of an elite player someday, but the confident kid can certainly talk the talk already.

“I am very good at it,” he says when asked what he likes most about golf. “If you are good at something, it will keep motivating you to become even better.”

Off the course, Guan is just a regular 14-year-old. He enjoys playing basketball, riding his bicycle around the neighborhood and checking out video games. He’s got plenty of friends his age and likes watching DVDs about Tiger Woods, the guy who’s been winning majors since before he was born.

Yes, he’s just a regular 14-year-old – with a Masters invitation.

And some super-sized dreams.

“I hope one day I can win four majors in one year,” he proudly boasts of the never-before-accomplished, professional Grand Slam. “I genuinely want to achieve this dream.”

Precocious? Absolutely. But hey, he’s still a kid. He’s supposed to dream big. And besides, he already knows a little something about making history.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: