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.”

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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.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

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.