AUGUSTA, Ga. —
Guan Tianlang is in good company this week at Augusta National.
He played a practice round Monday with two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, then headed out in the afternoon with Tiger Woods. He has a game lined up Tuesday with Tom Watson, an eight-time major champion. On Wednesday, he plans to play the Par 3 Tournament with Nick Faldo, winner of six majors.
Can't he play with someone his own age?
Not at this Masters.
Guan is the 14-year-old from China, the youngest to ever play in the Masters and the youngest player at any major in 148 years. He qualified by winning the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship last fall in Thailand, and now he gets a crack at the best in the game, on one of the most famous golf courses in the world.
Nerves? So far, only a big smile.
''I'm really excited in the morning when I come out on the course and there's many people here,'' Guan said Monday, conducting his news conference in English with a Chinese translator at his side in case he needed help. He rarely did.
The kid has shown to be special in many ways.
He went wire-to-wire in the Asia Pacific amateur, and he wasn't even rattled on the final hole at Amata Spring Country Club. With a belly putter he had been using for about six months, he calmly rapped in a 5-foot par putt for the one-shot win and a drive down Magnolia Lane - in the passenger seat, of course.
Age seems to have no limits these days in golf.
Tiger Woods was 21 when he set 20 records to win the 1997 Masters. Sergio Garcia was 19 when he nearly beat Woods in the PGA Championship two years later. Morgan Pressel was 18 when she won a major championship on the LPGA Tour. Lydia Ko was 15 when she won the Women's Canadian Open last year on the LPGA Tour.
Even so, this is the Masters.
Guan is 14, the only player in the field who brought his eighth-grade homework with him to Augusta National.
''I knew he was young,'' Steve Stricker said Monday. ''I didn't know he was the same age as my daughter. Yeah, that's remarkable. And I've been telling my daughter the same with this Lydia Ko, who has been playing on the LPGA Tour. I just can't imagine being that young and competing at this level at such an early age. It will be interesting. I'll be interested to see how he does and how he handles it and how he plays. It's remarkable that he's even playing.''
The only player younger than Guan in a major championship was Young Tom Morris, who was about a month younger in the 1865 British Open.
He arrived a few weeks ago and can't get enough of Augusta. Guan figures he already has played six rounds, and he was with a member the day he shot 69. Whether that translates in the tournament is another story.
Guan played in the Australian Open in December and opened with an 82 at The Lakes in Sydney. He bounced back with a 70 the next day, though the first-round score was enough to imagine what kind of number waits on the 7,445-yard course at Augusta National, where just getting to the slick, contoured putting surfaces is part of the challenge.
''I would say I'm not long enough, but I think I'm still all right in this golf course,'' Guan said. ''And I drive a little bit longer in Thailand than here, but I think I'm still all right, not a really serious problem.''
At least he's finding the right kind of help.
A friend at his home course in China knows Crenshaw and passed along the message that the kid wanted to play a practice round with him. Crenshaw gladly obliged, and was impressed with what he saw. Guan did not go wire-to-wire in Thailand on accident.
Crenshaw studied his touch, balance and rhythm, and he tried to show him the nuances of the slopes on the greens.
''It was fascinating to see,'' Crenshaw said.
Guan planned to stay in the Crow's Nest on Monday night, the tiny quarters set aside for the six amateurs in the field this week. He has been spending long days at Augusta in the week leading to the Masters, not leaving until twilight on Saturday.
And he was back on the course Sunday, playing nine holes and heading to the practice round. He was startled by a familiar voice.
''There he is!'' Watson bellowed in his direction. After a hearty handshake, Watson said to him, ''Working hard?''
''GOOD!'' Watson replied, flashing his gap-tooth grin.
The 30,000 fans on the course Monday didn't seem to bother Guan on the first official day of practice. Woods played 14 holes on Sunday with Stricker, and then returned Monday afternoon to play with Dustin Johnson, with Guan tagging along.
''It's frightening to think that he was born after I won my first Masters,'' Woods said two weeks ago at Bay Hill.
This is not the first time Woods has seen the Chinese teenager. He was at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai a few years ago, and during the pro-am Guan was in a group of juniors who played with Woods on the par-3 17th hole. Woods stood to the side amazed, not only at such a polished swing, but the composure playing before a thousand people.
Guan has been looking up to Woods since he was 3 or 4 years old, and ''it's pretty exciting to watch him.''
''I played with him twice in the past couple years, and he gives me many advice and I will say every time I play with him, I feel a lot better and give myself some confidence and it's very good,'' Guan said.
Nicolas Colsaerts is making his Masters debut. The Belgian, however, has the experience of playing major championships and a Ryder Cup last year. Plus, he's 30.
''I don't think I would have handled it,'' Colsaerts said. ''You know, 14, we're all busy already playing a lot of good golf, but to play Augusta at 14, I think everybody is almost in shock. I hope for him he's going to enjoy this week as much as I am. I almost feel like I should be considered the same way because this place needs to be treated more as a rookie thing. But, yeah, it's quite an achievement to get to play Augusta and the Masters at 14 years old.''
There was one question in Chinese, and Guan slowly shook his head waiting for the reporter to finish. As the center of attention this week, the reporter was curious if Guan would feel embarrassed if he plays poorly.
For Guan, it's more about the experience than the score.
''As I say, I'm not going to push myself too hard, and I'm trying to just enjoy my game, play my best, and hopefully play some good score,'' he said.
AUGUSTA, Ga. —
Guan Tianlang is in good company this week at Augusta National.
'Twice as Nice'
When it comes to the 3A State Tournament and Oklahoma City, the Verdigris High School basketball teams are a household name.
Head coaches Randy Upshaw and Mike Buntin lead their programs back to the 'Capitol City' this week for a chance to hoist the coveted 3A state championship on Saturday night at the Big House.
Cards fly into 3A State Tournament
Verdigris junior guard Cade Upshaw lives for March Madness.
The 5-foot-10 sharp-shooter overcame a sluggish performance in a loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah to bounce back for a 20-point outing in the Cardinals’ 72-42 win over Antlers Saturday evening in the Class 3A Area Tournament at Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Vinita eliminates Inola
Vinita used an 18-point third quarter — highlighted by the sophomore leadership of Carsyn Spurgeon — and converted 21-of-34 free throws to notch a 61-55 win over the Inola Lady Longhorns Saturday night in the Class 4A Area Tournament.
‘Soaring to State’
In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Stilwell advances to State
A jam-packed, vocal crowd — aided by the control of several Claremore Police officers — witnessed Stilwell’s come-from-behind 57-51 win over Harrah Saturday night in the must-win game of the Class 4A Area Tournament at the Claremore High School Gymnasium.
QB competition highlight Tulsa's spring drills
The Tulsa football team will open spring drills on Tuesday at H.A. Chapman Stadium. It will be the first of 15 spring workouts covering five weeks, and the first of three this week before taking next week off for Spring Break.
Tulsa practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week with practice sessions beginning at 3:30 pm. Practices are open to the public, but TU fans are required to enter and sign-in for each practice session at the check-in station on the west side of the stadium.
FOOTBALL: Tulsa opens AAC season with home opener against Tulane
The University of Tulsa wastes no time in getting right into American Athletic Conference competition in its inaugural season in the conference. Tulsa kicks off the 2014 campaign at home against another new league member, the Tulane Green Wave, the first weekend of the college football season.
SOFTBALL: Henshaw's game-winning RBI single lifts Tulsa past Western Illinois
Right fielder Haley Henshaw's game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the University of Tulsa a 7-6 win over Western Illinois on Tuesday at the Collins Softball Complex.
C-USA WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: No. 15-seed UTSA upsets Tulsa
No. 15-seed UTSA overcame a 15-point second-half deficit to defeat No. 10-seed Tulsa in first round Conference USA tournament action Tuesday night at Memorial Gym on the campus of UTEP. UTSA made eight of their last 14 field goals and 10-of-14 free throws to overtake the Hurricane.
SOFTBALL: OSU faces North Texas in Denton
The Oklahoma State softball team returns to action Wednesday, March 12, when the Cowgirls travel to Denton, Texas, to play North Texas in a midweek matchup beginning at 6 p.m.
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