Guan Returns to Pro Event in States

Chinese teenager Tianlang Guan is venturing back to a big professional tour event this week. The 14-year-old is in the "Big Easy" for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a $6.6 million tournament that starts Thursday at TPC Louisiana.

Guan made headlines worldwide two weeks ago when, after becoming the youngest player ever to qualify for the Masters, became the youngest entrant to ever make the weekend cut and went on to be crowned the top amateur in the year's first Grand Slam event.

The eighth grader showed considerable aplomb and maturity during the Masters' cauldron, impressing veterans and fans alike for his serious demeanor and skills at Augusta National. That poise was tested in the second round when he received a one-stroke penalty for slow play.

Guan told reporters after the second round that he had a difficult time figuring out the wind, a problem experienced by everyone else in the field. "Today is pretty hard because if you're timed only 40 seconds, it's pretty hard because you need to make the decision," he said then. "The wind switched a lot. But that's for everybody."

Some of the players in the field were miffed that officials picked on the youngster. Brandt Snedeker said, "I wish they would have made an example of someone other than a 14-year-old kid. They could have given a penalty to any one of us out there today."

On Tuesday during a presser two days before the start of the Zurich Classic, Guan promised such a situation wouldn't recur. "I just think my routine is not too bad," he told reporters. "Probably have to make a decision quicker on windy days. So, yeah, I'll pay attention a little bit to it and probably speed up a little bit."

Here's what else he had to say during his Tuesday Q&A.

MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Tianlang Guan. You had an interesting week at the Masters. You make another start on the PGA Tour this week. If you want to talk a little bit about your thoughts coming into this week, and I know you have some friends here in New Orleans that you spent some time with this week, and then we'll take some questions.

TIANLANG GUAN: Yeah, I spent a month here last year, and it's a great place for me. I feel great to come back here this year, especially after the Masters. It feels pretty good right now, and I hope to play good scores.

MODERATOR: Have you had a time to digest everything that happened at the Masters two weeks ago?

TIANLANG GUAN: It's not much different. Yeah, it's just like normally prepare for a tournament. This is a really important tournament too. We've got 160 something players this time, and it's not easy too.

Q. What is your goal for the week? What are you hoping to accomplish?

TIANLANG GUAN: I want to enjoy the week like in the Masters and, hopefully, make the cut. If not, it's still a great experience. I hope to play good scores out there.

Q. For the U.S. Open to qualify, do you know where you're going to try to qualify? What are your plans for that?

TIANLANG GUAN: I haven't decided yet. I'm not sure yet, because I might go back to China after this tournament. Everything on the schedule, we have to consider it.

Q. You could go overseas, or you could do it in this country?

TIANLANG GUAN: I'm not sure.

Q. Do you think because of the differences in the courses you'll need to make more birdies this week than at Augusta to make the cut?

TIANLANG GUAN: Probably. It's a challenging golf course, but it depends on the weather and where they put the tees and the pins. So it's not an easy week too.

Q. Do you have any concerns at all about slow play? Have you been thinking about that after what happened and the ruling at the Masters?

TIANLANG GUAN: Yeah, I just think my routine is not too bad. Probably have to make a decision quicker on windy days. So, yeah, I'll pay attention a little bit to it and probably speed up a little bit.

Q. If you would, tell me about the relationship you have with the folks at Lakewood that you sort of became friends and have a good relationship with the people here? How did that all come about?

TIANLANG GUAN: I came here last year and practiced here in some golf courses at TPC Lakewood, and we started to get some friends in Lakewood. I take part in the golf clinic last year too and helped teach the little kids. It's a lot of fun there. v Q. Were you surprised at all that you've sort of maintained a friendship with the folks at Lakewood?

TIANLANG GUAN: I'm not surprised. But we make a lot of friends, and the people there are very nice.

Q. Talk about this week and the opportunity you have to play in a PGA Tour event in front of a lot of people? I'm sure some people from Lakewood will probably be out here.

TIANLANG GUAN: Yeah, I really appreciate that they come here to watch me. Yeah, I just want to play my best and play like a normal tournament. Because after the Masters, the Masters has got a lot of people there, so I just want to play my best this week.

Q. Did you play any course in Asia almost as tough as Augusta National as the Masters course?

TIANLANG GUAN: No. The green is totally different. But I believe I've done a pretty good job at Augusta so far. So, it's a little different.

Q. How long have you been using the long putter, and why did you decide to go with it?

TIANLANG GUAN: Almost a year. I changed it in here last year. I think I just feel comfortable with it and feel more stable. But it's not a really big difference to the short putter. Just that I feel it's better.

Q. Out there on your practice round today, what is your strength on this course? What kind of things does your game work well with on this course?

TIANLANG GUAN: I think this is also a big course for me. I need to putt it good I think. And I should play really good woods to make the cut and go further, but I still need to play a really good couple of rounds.

MODERATOR: Thank you for your time, and good luck this week.


The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.