Guan inspired by Tiger as he seals victory in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
Newly crowned Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion Guan Tianlang aims to emulate his hero Tiger Woods when he takes part in International Final Qualifying (IFQ) for The Open next year.
The 14 year old Chinese prodigy has met Woods on two occasions in China and said he has been inspired by the three-time Open champion. At the weekend he became the youngest winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship earning a place in IFQ for The Open next March and qualification for the Masters in April.
Guan held off the challenge of Pan Cheng-tsung from Chinese Taipei as he posted a one under par 71 in the final round at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand to finish on a 15 under par total of 273. Guan coolly holed a five foot putt on the last green to secure a one shot victory and clinch the trophy.
Guan said his ambition is to follow in Woods’ footsteps and win a Major championship as soon as possible after he turns professional. “Tiger’s my idol. He has a big heart and it’s really good for me to learn how he became the world’s best player,” he said.
Guan first saw Woods play at the 2005 HSBC Champions in Shanghai and then met him in November 2010 when he was invited to play the 212 yard par three 17th with him at the HSBC Champions’ pro-am. Guan played from the same back tees as Woods and found the green ten feet from the hole, only two feet further away than Woods’ ball. In April 2011, Guan met the 14-time major winner for a second time at the Nike Golf Junior Championship at Mission Hills in Guangdong, where Guan won the tournament and received the trophy from his idol.
“I played pretty well the first time I played with him in Shanghai and he recognised me at Mission Hills, which was really nice. He talked to me a lot, asking me many questions. It was really good,” said Guan.
Guan will become the youngest competitor in the history of the Masters at 14 years, five months and 17 days breaking the record set by Matteo Manassero in 2010, when the 16-year-old earned an invitation after winning the previous year’s British Amateur Championship.
Guan will not hold that distinction for The Open should he qualify next July however. The youngest known competitor in golf’s oldest Championship is Tommy Morris Junior who played in 1865 at the age of 14 years, 4 months and 25 days.
The Guangzhou-based schoolboy weighs only 125 pounds and only turned 14 on October 25. He played some excellent golf to post scores of 66, 64 and 72 and take a two shot lead over Australia’s Oliver Goss going in to the final round. Sh