After finishing the 2013 Masters as the low amateur in the event at just 14 years old—the youngest in the 77-year history of the tournament— Tianlang Guan's success this week should lead to the budding star entering the United States Open in June.
The eighth-grader from China finished his four rounds of Masters golf at Augusta with a score of 12-over, but it was the fact that he was able to make the weekend cut and hang with the big boys all week that showed the character of the young man.
Add the composure he showed when he was penalized for slow play on Friday (h/t ESPN), and there is no question that Guan has the raw talent and now the experience to qualify for the 2013 U.S. Open.
As an amateur, Guan can continue to play in majors as long as he is not winning money or substantial prizes (h/t USGA amateur rules), making his decision to play tournaments on the PGA tour solely about the learning experience.
Despite Guan’s excellent play at the Masters, he is not guaranteed a spot in the U.S. Open and must qualify like the rest of the field.
If Guan and his family feel that this is an experience that must come to fruition, the Chinese star has plenty of options about where and when he would attempt to qualify for the June tournament (USGA’s official qualifying rules).
Guan is already into the field for the British Open Championship in July because of his victory at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, and adding a start at the U.S. Open would make this an amazing beginning to a promising career.
As if more major experience wasn’t enough to convince Guan that playing in the U.S. Open was the smart decision, the fact that this year’s tournament will be played at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia will be the deciding factor.
While Merion is by no means a short course (East Course is 6,846 yards), it is not as long as many of the other venues that held the U.S. Open (2011’s tournament at Congressional Golf Club’s Blue Course was 7,568 yards).
That shorter distance will give Guan a great chance to compete at a high level because of his lack of prowess driving the ball. The strength needed to drive the ball will come over time as he grows into his body, but at 14 years old, the shorter course distance would be a blessing.
The golf world would love to see Guan attempt to make the U.S. Open, and if he makes the field once again his amazing story will continue to blossom into one of the best of the year.