Fourteen-year-old Chinese prodigy in line to win place at the Masters next year
14:45 GMT, 2 November 2012
Could a 14-year-old be playing in the Masters next year That amazing possibility has moved firmly into view after Chinese prodigy Guan Tianlang opened up a five stroke lead at the halfway stage of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand.
The event is backed by Augusta National Golf Club and draws the best amateurs from all over Asia and beyond, drawn by the irresistible lure of a place in the field at the Masters that goes to the winner.
After opening with a wonderful 66, everyone wondered whether the slightly built Guan, who only turned 14 last week, would succumb to stage fright in Friday's second round. He certainly answered that one with a stunning 64 to spread eagle the field.
Unmistakable: The beautiful Augusta National Golf Club, host of The
Masters, which was won by Bubba Watson (below) in an emotional triumph this year
'My goal was to come here and win and go to the Masters but I know there is a long way to go and it will be far from easy,' said Guan. 'I'm not thinking that far ahead because I know there are so many good players here.'
An indication of the prestige of the event is illustrated by the fact 36 different nations are represented among the 120 player field.
Guan first came to public attention last April when he made European Tour history by becoming the youngest player to play in a full-field event when he competed in the Volvo China Open. The way he is going, he will be making headlines all around the world next April as well.
At present the youngest player to compete in the game's youngest major is Matteo Manassero who, just for good measure, went on to make the halfway cut as well at the 2010 Masters aged 16.
At the United States Open last year, 14 year old Andy Zhang came through qualifying to become the youngest player to compete in a major since Young Tom Morris – a month younger than Zhang – strode on to the Prestwick links as one of 13 competitors in the 1865 Open.
If Guan manages to hold on and win this weekend, he will be younger than Zhang but older than Morris.
Teen dream: Andy Zhang at the US Open
The teenagers are taking over!
Andy Zhang, another 14-year-old, became the youngest player to compete in a major championship since 1865 when he teed up at the US Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco in June.
Zhang was born in China, but made in America. A golf coach spotted him on a scouting mission in China and, at the age of 10, Zhang and his family moved to Florida and David Leadbetter’s academy.
Sadly, Zhang missed the cut at the Olympic Club after rounds of 79 and 78.
But he'll be back…