Teen scene: Guan joins long list of golf phenoms

By Doug FergusonApril 23, 2013, 10:35 pm

There was a time when a 14-year-old on the PGA Tour would be considered big news.

It's starting to feel like old news.

Tianlang Guan tees it up on Thursday at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, which must feel like a significant step down from where he was two weeks ago. He played practice rounds at Augusta National with Tom Watson and Tiger Woods. He played in the Masters alongside Ben Crenshaw. He was in Butler Cabin when Adam Scott first slipped on the green jacket. Guan was the low amateur.

The emphasis should be on the Chinese teen's performance – the youngest to play 72 holes in a major, nothing worse than a bogey all week, no three-putts on some of the fastest, most frightening greens in golf – and not on his birth certificate.

Age is just a number.


Video: Teen dream and Dufnering at Zurich Classic


Teenagers have been dotting the professional golf landscape for the last decade.

Despite a one-shot penalty for slow play on the 17th hole of his second round, Guan still made the cut against a 93-man field at the Masters. Remember, it was only nine years ago when another 14-year-old – Michelle Wie – shot a 68 and missed by one shot making the cut against a 143-man (and one girl) field at the Sony Open.

Morgan Pressel was 13 when she played in the 2001 U.S. Women's Open at Pine Needles, a record that was broken six years later by Lexi Thompson, who was 12. Thompson went on to win an LPGA event when she was 16, a record that was broken last year by 15-year-old Lydia Ko in the Canadian Women's Open.

Ryo Ishikawa was 15 when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup on the Japan Golf Tour, making him the youngest player to win on one of the six major golf tours.

That record still stands.

For now.

Guan has no illusions of winning the Zurich Classic. He spent some three weeks at Augusta National getting ready for the Masters and its 7,435-yard course. Next up is TPC Louisiana, which is 7,341 yards and doesn't typically play as fast. Making the cut won't be as easy as it was at the Masters against a 156-man field with no 10-shot rule.

That's not the only difference, of course.

''The Masters has got a lot of people there,'' Guan said on Tuesday. ''So I just want to play my best this week.''

Is there room for an eighth grader in professional golf? Sure, as long as it's a cameo appearance.

Zurich was among the sponsors of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which Guan won wire-to-wire last year to earn an exemption into the Masters. Guan also has a connection to the area. He practiced at Lakewood Golf Club last year when he tried to qualify for the U.S. Open. He failed to make it. The youngest at The Olympic Club last summer was another 14-year-old from China, Andy Zhang.

Guan led a junior golf clinic at Lakewood on Saturday, while getting ready for his next PGA Tour event. Still to be determined is how much longer Guan stays in America and whether he will try to qualify for the U.S. Open.

The danger is trying to do too much too soon, though Guan appears to be playing golf for all the right reasons – fun.

That was his goal at the Masters, to make it an enjoyable week, no matter what scores he put on his card. And he had a blast, along with getting in all four rounds. His father said at the Masters that Guan was in no hurry to turn pro because ''amateurs have fun.''

That appears to be the theme in the Big Easy.

''I want to enjoy the week, like in the Masters, and hopefully make the cut,'' he said. ''If not, it's still a great experience. I hope to play good scores out there.''

There are pitfalls to starting too early and facing overwhelming competition. Wie spent her early teens trying to compete against the men, and she showed some promise. She reached the quarterfinals of the men's U.S. Amateur Public Links, and she was in the hunt for a spot in a major on the back nine of U.S. Open qualifying. But she was at her best when she was still in high school.

Ty Tryon made it through all three stages of PGA Tour qualifying in 2001 at age 17, and his career quickly fell apart.

Times are changing, though. Kids are more prone to handle the pressure of the big leagues. Pressel nearly won the U.S. Women's Open when she was 17, and she was still 18 when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Ishikawa, struggling in his first full year on the PGA Tour, has won 10 times in Japan, one of those with a 58 in the final round.

Perhaps it was only appropriate that Guan played the opening two rounds at Augusta with Matteo Manassero, who previously held the record as the youngest to play all four rounds in a major at 16 in the 2009 British Open. Manassero won twice on the European Tour before he turned 18.

Guan already is famous for his remarkable play at the Masters.

Liang Wenchong, who played the Masters in 2008 and tied for eighth in the 2010 PGA Championship, wrote on Guan's Weibo post after he made the cut at Augusta, ''Your future, the future of Chinese golf, the world's No. 1, everything is possible.''

But he's only 14. Who's to say he will even be the best from China when he turns pro?

Whatever happens this week in New Orleans, the attention will shift across the Pacific Ocean next week to the China Open, where the field includes 12-year-old Ye Wocheng. Last month, Ye became the youngest player to qualify for a European Tour event.

His reaction to such an achievement says a lot about this new age of golf when he said, ''I've dreamed of this since I was a boy.''

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1