10 April 2013

Should Tianlang Guan, at the ripe old age of 14, be playing in the Masters?

Lang with Tom Watson
You want to feel old? There is a player in the Masters that is too young to be play golf in high school, should be in the eighth grade and even brought some homework with him. Yes, Chinese golfer Tianlang Guan is all of 14 years old but as a result of winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, he is making history this week as the youngest player ever to play in the Masters. He is the youngest player to play in any Major since the 1865 Open Championship. Yes, you read that right.

As you do not see a player this young play in any tournament that often, let alone the biggest tournament in the sport, there has been a lot of media focus on Tianlang and whether or not a player his age should be in this tournament. I, however, disagree with those who say he should not be playing in this tournament because of the simple fact that Tianlang deserves to be here.

The points made by those who say that somebody that young should not be playing in such a huge tournament on a huge stage are legitimate. Could you imagine being a 14 year old and playing on the largest stage in golf, with so many eyes on you and all the pressure? I remember when I was 14, those were the days.

But here's the thing, Tianlang deserves to be at Augusta this week. It does not matter how old he is because he won the right to play in the Masters by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. The Masters has a long history of rewarding amateur play because the course founder, Bobby Jones, may be the most prolific amateur player ever. So Tianlang, no matter how old he is, has every right to be at the Masters as anybody else in the tournament this week. Nobody can, or should, take that away.

Plus, Tianlang says that he thinks he can do well. "Because I have the confidence...I know I can play well" he said, and thus he says he is "going to play like myself." And if you have been listening to Tiger Woods, who first met Tianlang when he was 12, the idea of this youngeon making the cut may not sound so crazy, even if it really is. Besides, considering how young he is, maybe Tianlang really does not know what he is in for, which could only take even more pressure off and allow him to find and play his game.

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