Guan Tianliang, 14, is one round away from being the youngest competitor to make a U.S. Masters Open appearance since 16-year-old Matteo Manaserro of Italy in 2010.
Guan played at Amata Spring in Bangkok, China Saturday, which has proven to be a difficult course for others in the past. The young sensation managed to shoot a par 72 to take a two-shot lead over Australian Olver Goss going into the final day of the Pacific Amateur Championship. Nerves appeared to rattle Guan in the beginning of his match.
“Everybody looked a little bit nervous to start with, and there was not much talking,” Guan said. “I then started to focus on my own game and felt pretty relaxed on the back nine, got a few birdies, so it was all right.”
Guan is competing for a Masters invitation, along with an exemption to the final stage of qualifying for the British Open in 2013.
Guan has a long way to go to reach the Augusta National in May, which Goss proved.
Goss, shot a 69 after winning last in week in the Western Australia Open and being a quarter-finalist in the U.S. Amateur.
Guan impressed Goss with his style of play at such a young age. The young amateur averages 250 yards off his tee shot.
“Guan did well because the course was playing a lot tougher than the first two days. He doesn’t hit it as far as other players, so I think he did really well,” Goss said. “I hit it longer than him, but I think he’s too young to be intimidated.”
The front nine proved to be especially difficult for Guan because he relinquished a five-shot lead and dropped to two shots on Saturday. The 11th, 12th, and 14th holes proved to be golden for him when he nailed birdie shots. He finished at 14-under after a bogey on the 14 the hole.
Big tournaments are nothing new to Guan after competing at the European Tour event in China in this past spring. He won his 11-12 age division a year ago by 11 shots at the Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego.
Guan understands that he will have to play a perfect game in order to capture the victory on Sunday, but that will not an easy task with Gross on his tail.
“Goss hits the driver pretty far and every part of his game is pretty good,” Guan said. “He doesn’t make big mistakes. He’s a very good player.”