Altvater: 14-year-old wunderkind becomes youngest ever to qualify for MastersWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Guan Tian-Lang, a 14-year-old middle school student from China, won the Asian-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand Nov. 4 to become the youngest qualifier ever for the Masters.
Guan, who weighs in at a whopping 125 pounds, uses a belly putter to work his magic around the greens.
Even if the USGA and R&A rule to ban the belly putter during the next few weeks, it will not affect Guan and his appearance at Augusta National. The new rules will not take effect for several years as players will be given a chance to conform and practice with new equipment.
Italy’s Matteo Manaserro was previously the youngest ever to qualify for the Masters when he won the 2009 British Amateur at age 16.
Augusta National and the R&A started the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship three years ago to bring a top-flight amateur event to the Far East and promote golf to the Asian market.
Guan shot a final round 71 and led all four rounds of the Asia-Pacific Amateur. He had to make an up-and-down for par when he missed the green on the last hole to preserve his one-shot lead.
He was also the youngest player ever to play in a European Tour event when he was given an exemption into the China Open when he was still 13 earlier this year.
The Masters granted an invitation to the winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to recognize outstanding golf achievement in the Far East and to further promote the game of golf in Asian markets.