Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old amateur from China who is the youngest golfer ever to play at the Masters, shot an incredible 1-over 73 in the first round of the Masters on Thursday.
He birdied the par-5 13 and triumphantly finished by making a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. He received a standing ovation from the gallery, and the moment became more special when his playing partner, 61-year-old and two-time Masters champ Ben Crenshaw, also birdied the hole.
Crenshaw is one of the golfers Guan has admired, and after the two played a practice round this week, Crenshaw said that he would not be surprised if Guan actually made the cut, which he has a chance of doing.
Golfers like Crenshaw, Trevor Immelman, and Fred Couples said they could not put his performance into words.
Couples, who shot a 4-under 68, said Guan’s performance was more impressive than his given this was the first time Guan has ever played at Augusta and is in eighth grade.
Guan said after he hit his tee shot on the first hole, he lost his nerves and just felt “comfortable.”
“After that, I felt comfortable,” Guan said.
Playing halfway around the world, Guan had a better round than golfers who have won majors, including Padraig Harrington, Stewart Cink, and defending champion Bubba Watson.
Before the Masters, Guan said he most desired to play a round with Tom Watson. After being able to do so, Guan played a practice round with another Stanford alum–Tiger Woods. He said nearly all of the players told him to just “play my game” and “have fun.”
When asked if he would change his approach to playing golf now that he has a real chance to make the cut, Guan said he would not and would just continue to take the advice others have given him and “have fun.”
Before the round, Guan’s mother gave him some juice boxes and snacks because she said the 14-year-old sometimes forgets to eat when immersed in his golf.