Guan makes history after second-round 69

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2013, 8:53 pm

AVONDALE, La. – For another piece of history, Guan Tianlang first needed to navigate the watery, par-3 ninth hole at TPC Louisiana. Over and over he wiped his hands with a towel, rubbing in between his fingers, as he waited to play. His fellow playing competitor had just hooked his tee shot into the water. Guan gulped, then kept wiping.

Up next, the 14-year-old from China grabbed his 23-degree hybrid, imagined the shot he wanted to pull off – a baby, 2-yard draw – and made his normal long and languid swing. Knowing he was hovering near the cut line, Guan simply wanted to find the center of the green on the 179-yard hole. But his tee shot sailed high, with that baby, 2-yard draw, and suddenly it was covering the flagstick, just four paces from the water. When the ball finally settled 25 feet behind the cup, he calmly returned the club to his caddie and smiled. 

Afterward, when asked if he was nervous over that decisive tee ball, he shrugged and said, “Not much.”

Zurich Classic: Articles, videos and photos

Guan Tianlang: Articles, videos and photos

With another mind-boggling performance on a long (7,425 yards) and soggy course, Guan carded five birdies (and a par on that ninth hole) during a second-round 69 that assured he’d stick around for the weekend at the Zurich Classic. When he finished his round, he was tied for 44th at 3-under 141, which ended up being the cut number. The low 70 and ties advance.

Said Justin Bolli, who was grouped with Guan for the first two rounds: “I mean, he just looked like one of us out there.”

Except, of course, for the chapped lips, the absence of pores or facial hair, the undeveloped body. 

At 14 years, 6 months and 1 day, Guan will become the youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour event, surpassing the previous modern-day record (Bob Panasik, 1957 Canadian Open) by more than a year. 

This, of course, after he became one of the central figures of the Masters, where he was docked a slow-play penalty in the second round and still qualified for the weekend, eventually finishing T-58. 

“It’s unreal. He just goes out there like it’s his 15th year (on Tour),” said Henrik Norlander, the third member in Guan’s group. “He doesn’t care. He hits his shots and doesn’t care about the surroundings. I wish I could be like him.”

Not surprisingly, news spread quickly of Guan’s historic achievement.

Tweeted Paul Tesori, caddie for reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson: “Are you kidding me with this 14yr old phenom Guan Tianlang? The course is wet and playing LONG! How is it possible? #hellofutureofgolf”

Wrote swing coach Butch Harmon: “Can you believe 14 year old T. Guan has 69 today to make yet another cut at 141. This is truly an amazing thing. Congrats young man.”

Added Morgan Hoffmann, at 23 no elder statesman himself: “John Peterson and I were talking about it, and I said, ‘I hope (Guan) understands what he’s doing, because everybody out here is following him.’”

Detractors will say that Guan isn’t playing for a paycheck, that he didn’t have anything to lose, that the result would be different if he weren’t playing for fun or the learning experience. Maybe so.

But neither was 10-time major winner Annika Sorenstam, who played the Colonial in 2003. And even one of the best women’s players of all time couldn’t play the weekend at a PGA Tour event. It’s no simple task.

So how could Guan do it – twice, no less?

The teen averaged 262 yards off the tee, but he missed only two fairways Friday. 

He hit 11 greens, but took just 25 putts.

For the week, he is 30 of 32 from inside 10 feet, though he did three-jack the 14th hole, something he didn’t do all week at Augusta National.

Two holes later, it should be noted, the kid rebounded with a birdie. 

When his tee shot at the long sixth found the water left, he hit a 3-wood to the front edge, then sank a 12-foot bogey putt.

On the par-3 third, which played 234 yards, Guan hit a 3-wood that horseshoed around the cup.

“He just hits it so accurately,” Bolli said. “He hits 3-woods and 5-woods to 10 feet. If you can do that, you can play anywhere.”

Said Norlander, “He’s better off with hybrids and woods than 6-iron because he can hit it so high and they come in so soft. He has unbelievable face control. Nothing is off-line. He can work the ball, too.

“There are a lot of good kids, but the way he handles himself impressed me the most. He could have gone out and shot 80-80 and everyone would think it’s cool anyways. He has nothing to lose. He just goes out and plays his game.”

Guan’s stay in New Orleans already was scheduled to last a little longer, even before this 72-69 start at the Zurich. He will play next month’s U.S. Open local qualifier in Dallas, proving yet again that there must be very accommodating schoolteachers in China.

Now, though, his biggest concern may not be chasing down leader Lucas Glover but what to wear for the final two rounds. On Friday, he wore a green striped Masters shirt and Masters logo cap. He’s been in the States for nearly two months.

Asked if he has enough Masters gear to make it through the weekend, the kid smiled and said, fittingly: “No. They don’t have enough small sizes.”

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.