The presence of 11-year-old Lucy Li on our radar screens this week made me wonder whatever happened to Guan Tianlang, who played in the 2013 Masters – and made the cut – as a 14-year-old.
As it turns out, he's taking a step backward – and, to me, that's a good thing.
Over at Golf Digest, John Strege reports that Guan, who is now 15, has entered the Callaway Junior World Championship next month at Torrey Pines. Guan has great experience in that prominent international event, having won the 11-12-year-old division in 2011, and tied for 22nd the next year as a 13-year-old in the 15-17-year-old division.
Guan qualified for the 2013 Masters by winning the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, and made history at Augusta National by becoming the youngest player ever to make the cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. And, of course, he received the first slow-play penalty in Masters history.
He also made the cut in the Zurich Classic in the spring of 2013, but missed the cut in the 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship, Memorial and FedEx St. Jude Classic. More recently, he missed the cut in the UBS Hong Kong Open last fall, missed the cut in the PGA Tour's Sony Open in January and missed the cut in the Volvo China Open this spring.
He also spent some quality time at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., according to Coleman McDowell at Golf.com, and has been working with instructor Sean Foley, who of course is also Tiger Woods' swing coach.
Guan was praised by everyone from Ben Crenshaw to Tiger Woods for both his game and his maturity during his run in the United States last year, and no doubt he's special. But taking a deep breath, reappraising his place in the game and deciding to return to the junior ranks (at least for a bit) could be his most mature decision yet.