AVONDALE, La. – Many eyes – and stopwatches – will be on Guan Tianlang this week at the Zurich Classic.
It’s his first regular PGA Tour start – and second appearance in three weeks against the big boys – and the 14-year-old from China will tee it up in front of the friends he has made from nearby Lakewood Golf Club, where he played and practiced last May.
But this week’s challenge will prove unique.
His performance at the Masters was extraordinary – 4 over for the opening two rounds, no three-putts all week – but now he’ll have to make birdies on the 7,400-yard, rain-softened TPC Louisiana, where laser hybrids to the fat part of the green for two-putt pars likely won’t be good enough to stick around for the weekend.
But Guan’s goal, once again, is simple: “I want to enjoy the week like in the Masters and, hopefully, make the cut. If not, it’s still a great experience.”
And perhaps this one won’t be tainted by controversy. His pace of play will be closely watched, particularly after his surprising but not unwarranted slow-play penalty during the second round of the Masters. Here, he will be paired the first two rounds with Henrik Norlander and Justin Bolli (2:40 p.m. ET tee time Thursday).
Asked if he had any concerns about slow play this week (no player has been docked a penalty stroke for slow play since Glen Day in 1995), Guan said, “I think my routine is not too bad. I probably have to make a decision quicker on windy days. So yeah, I’ll pay attention a little bit to it and probably speed up a little bit.”