China's Guan Tian-lang May Become Teenage Golfing Idol

Debby Wong-US Presswire

China’s hottest golfer right now has not even graduated from the eighth grade.

Guan Tian-lang won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship on Sunday with a 1-under 71 at the Amata Springs Country Club in Bangkok.

The victory gave the 14-year-old the coveted invitation to play in the 2013 Masters. Now he will get to play Augusta with the PGA‘s big boys, like Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and his idol, Tiger Woods.

Guan will be the youngest player to play in the prestigious event since Italy’s Matteo Manassero in 2010, who was almost 17. Andy Zhang of China qualified last summer for the U.S. Open at the age of 14. This is the second year in a row that a 14-year-old Chinese golfer has qualified for a major.

Guan, an articulate teenager, held his own with the media after the final round Sunday, answering media questions in English like an old pro. However, his answers may be a little different than the veteran PGA players.

When he is not playing in tournaments, Guan has to go to school like any other teen. After school, he practices golf for about two hours and then has to go and finish his homework before going to bed.

And, like other teenagers around the world, he follows his favorite celebs and athletes via the social media, such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Ashton Kutcher. Of course, he also follows his favorite PGA pros.

Although China bans the use of Twitter in the country, it is sneaking in, especially with the younger generation.

Guan is no exception, and this week he really has something to Tweet about, including one of his latest entries, which said, “I want to win the U.S. Masters at Augusta.”

Golf is a hot sport all over Asia right now, and Guan may become a golf idol for Chinese youngsters picking up a club after seeing his success, similar to the Tiger Woods explosion when he burst on the scene and inspired youngsters to try golf.

If he continues to play the way he did over the weekend, Guan may make many visits to Augusta National in his quest for the green jacket.

See mores stories by Cheri Jensen.