by Jeff Skinner
Masters Countdown: 26 Days
The Masters prides itself on growing the game beyond the borders of the United States. International players have had a rich history at Augusta National ever since Gary Player became the first international winner in 1961.
In addition to many invitations extended to amateurs that win USGA events The Masters also extends an invitation to the winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur. This year’s Asia-Pacific invitation went to China’s Guan Tianlang who won his title ten days after turning fourteen years old. He’ll be the youngest player in Masters history when he tees it up next month at Augusta.
Mark Dee of Golf Magazine had a chance to interview the youngster who has made yearly excursions to the U.S. to play amateur golf since 2005.
Tianlang on the moment he knew he was going to The Masters: I remember playing in the final round [of the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which Tianlang won by a stroke to qualify for the Masters]. On the 18th hole, I was in the lead by one. It’s a long par 4. My second stroke missed the green, and I realized I was so close to the Masters. I told myself, “Calm down and finish this hole safe and steady.” I had a great up-and-down. I was nervous over the [par] putt, but I made it. I was in the Masters!
On his dream pairing at Augusta: I would like to play the Masters with Tom Watson. I met him in Sydney, and he invited me to play the practice round together on Tuesday [of Masters week]. He is so kind and gentle. It will be my honor to play with such a legend, who would also have a lot to teach me about the course.
On his expectations: Can I make the cut? I would like to make the cut, sure, but I’m not worried about things like that. Since it’s my first Masters, my only goals are to enjoy it and show my best to everyone.
That’s a great attitude to have and he’ll surely have the experience of a lifetime at Augusta.