Teen's presence one of many unusual sights at 2013 Masters

By Jason SobelNovember 5, 2012, 5:23 pm

Allow me to be your advanced tour guide around Augusta National Golf Club, oh, about 155 days from now, as the venerable institution prepares to host the 77th edition of The Masters Tournament.

That sound you’ll hear is the supercharged engine of the General Lee, followed by the irrepressible Dixie air horn, as defending champion Bubba Watson cruises his way down Magnolia Lane with a contingent from Waffle House in tow to present the Champions Dinner.

Those two women walking the course in green jackets will be Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, the first female members of the club, their mere presence signifying a new era on these grounds.

And that kid drawing everyone’s attention, the one tipping the scales at a buck twenty-five with a thin layer of peachfuzz atop his upper lip, well, that’s Tianlang Guan, the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion who’ll tee it up that week at the ripe old age of 14.

The powers-that-be at Augusta National won’t condone any analogy to a three-ring circus, but about the only thing this place will be missing is Al Czervik asking if somebody stepped on a duck.

Next year’s Masters will skip evolution and go straight to revolution. Or maybe the Mayans were just off by a few months.

It’s safe to say Clifford Roberts didn’t have any of this in mind decades ago. He never envisioned a champion named Bubba who owns the Dukes of Hazzard car, never foresaw women being members of the club, never anticipated a 14-year-old competing in his world-class invitational.

Which of those developments was least likely? That’s a question undoubtedly sparking some lively debate in 19th holes around the world right now.

Give me the kid. I mean, let’s think about this: A 14-year-old from China who is barely taller than his belly putter now has an invitation to hang in the Crow’s Nest. Sure, other kids his age have gotten into the Masters, but only with free admission if accompanied by an adult badge holder.

Now they’ll have to get their tickets to the Guan Show.

Guan will be on the inside of the ropes, competing in the world’s most famous golf tournament alongside the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Lee Westwood, each of whom was a top-20 player when Guan was born on Oct. 25, 1998, and remains inside that ranking today.

He’ll be the youngest competitor in tournament history, surpassing Matteo Manassero’s mark by more than two years. He’ll be a month younger than fellow Chinese wunderkind Andy Zhang was when he competed in this year’s U.S. Open.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised, though. After all, Beethoven held his first public performance at age 7. Picasso painted “Picador” at age 8. And a guy named Michael Kearney is in the Guinness Book of World Records for graduating college at age 10.

By those standards, Guan has some serious catching up to do.

His success – and that of so many other young players recently – can be explained by a variety of factors from technological advancements to increased coaching methodology to treating amateur golf with the mindset of a professional.

One factor which shouldn’t be overlooked is the Tiger Effect. For years, we’ve been waiting for a direct impact of Woods’ success on the game’s most elite level and now we’re witnessing it.

Need proof? Guan first started playing the game when he was 4 years old, which was not too terribly long after Woods claimed his so-called Tiger Slam, hoisting all four major championship trophies onto his mantel at the same time. The teenager has met his golfing hero twice, playing a hole with him each time – and obviously using those meetings as motivation in his own endeavors.

“I think he has a strong mind and strong heart,” Guan explained, “so I think that's why he's so great.”

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, up-and-coming golfers may be speaking of Guan in the same reverential tones. He’s an impressive youngster – and that’s not just a commendation of his golf game. For a 14-year-old who speaks English as a second language, he’s not only fluent, but eloquent, purporting intellect that makes him wise beyond his years.

When asked how much pride he feels about becoming the youngest Masters competitor ever, he acknowledges that sentiment, but claims it’s about much more than himself.

“I think it really helps Chinese golf and the Chinese golfers,” he said. “They will maybe train even harder and get more people that know about that.”

Of course, let’s not forget that he is just 14 years old. Like any 14-year-old, he took to Twitter to boast of his most recent accomplishment, even tweeting: “I want to win the US Masters at Augusta.”

Hey, who doesn’t? But you’ve got to be in it to win it, and Guan has already accomplished the first part of that equation.

It’s all part of a changing scene at Augusta National, one that will possess a much different feel some 155 days from now.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.