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Chinese teen Masters bound

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By The Associated Press
Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

Guan Tianlang is an eighth-grader from China who barely weighs 125 pounds and doesn't hit the golf ball far enough to reach some par 4s. The next stop for the 14-year-old prodigy will be the Masters, where he will tee it up with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson at Augusta National.

Guan completed a wire-to-wire victory Sunday in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, making a 5-foot par putt on the final hole at Amata Spring Country Club for a one-shot win that earned him an invitation to the Masters.

“I'm really excited about it,” Guan said after closing with a 1-under 71. “I will be training maybe a little bit harder and got some more power for that because I'm still growing right now. So it will be great fun.”

He is believed to be the youngest male to play in a major championship. Andy Zhang of China, who trained at a golf academy in Florida, was 14 years, 6 months when he qualified for the U.S. Open last summer at The Olympic Club. Guan would be about a month younger.

Woods could have seen this coming.

Just two years ago, Woods was playing in the HSBC Champions pro-am at Sheshan International in Shanghai when Guan was in a group of juniors who played with him on the par-3 17th hole. Woods was amazed that day, at the poise Guan showed at performing on such a stage — more than a thousand people in the gallery, an audience that included Woods, a 14-time major champion.

Even with a spot in the Masters on the line, Guan didn't flinch.

Pan Cheng-tsung of Taiwan, the second-ranked amateur in Asia, made par on the 18th hole for a 65 that left him one shot behind. Guan, the youngest player at the Asia-Pacific Amateur, hits the ball only about 250 yards off the tee, and even a 3-wood for his second shot left him short of the green. Guan had made bogey twice on the 18th during the tournament.

“I think about it a little bit at the last hole, but I'm trying not to get it in my mind,” Guan said, referring to the Masters invitation. “I got a little bit nervous on the last putt because that's the winning putt.”

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