x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Spare Chinese golf prodigy Guan Tianlang all that attention

The teenager who becomes the youngest to be selected to play at the Masters, at 14, will take time to develop into a competitive player.

There is already too much being speculated about Guan Tianlang's talent. Paul Lakatos / AP Photo
There is already too much being speculated about Guan Tianlang's talent. Paul Lakatos / AP Photo

Matteo Manassero must feel old. The Italian, an Abu Dhabi ambassador, is the youngest player to have contested the Masters – although come April he will relinquish that particular distinction.

In 2010, a Manassero of 16 years, 11 months and 20 days teed it up on Thursday at Augusta National and promptly made the cut. In five months, Guan Tianlang, at a mere 14 years, five months and 17 days during his first round, will rewrite the record books.

The Chinese youngster triumphed in Sunday's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to guarantee his place at next season's first major and ensure the considerable fuss already generated by his victory will continue unabated to the Masters.

However, expectations must be tempered. China craves its own golfing superstar to raise the game's profile there, rather than having to offer huge fees to attract the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, as it did last week.

Guan represents an obvious torchbearer, but he needs time. At the Masters, he will no doubt struggle on one of golf's most daunting courses. For all his obvious ability, he drives the ball only 250 yards, which renders near impossible the 7,435-yard track.

Guan illustrated at the weekend that he could execute a game plan, but events outside the ropes will provide the greatest challenge in Georgia. Granted, Augusta is particularly adept at controlling its environment, but Guan must still be allowed to enjoy his remarkable ascent to stardom.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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