x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Above par, under age

Teenage golf prodigy Guan Tianlang must try to avoid the traps of success at a young age.

Most professional golfers can only dream of making the cut at the US Masters. On Saturday, amateur player Guan Tianlang did just that - even after he received a one-point penalty for playing too slowly.

Oh, and he's only 14 years old.

The Chinese prodigy has replaced Italy's Matteo Manassero, who was 16 when he played at Augusta in 2010, as the youngest player in Masters history. Guan's stated ambition is to win a calendar-year grand slam - a feat that has eluded even his hero and mentor, Tiger Woods.

Hopefully, Guan will avoid some of the traps that Woods and other young athletes have fallen into, and he'll be able to find a balance between his sport and enjoying a normal teenager's life.

While only time will tell just how good he becomes, Guan's name will be enshrined in the record books - at least until somebody even younger comes along. Just last month, his compatriot, 12-year-old Ye Wocheng, became the youngest player to qualify for the European tour.

Meanwhile, we should spare a thought for the legions of middle-aged duffers who are quietly despairing as they watch the youngsters take over a sport that was once their privileged domain.