The Road Less Traveled
By mustang6560 on 4/22/13
Despite being dealt a rare slow play penalty, Tianlang Guan became the youngest player ever to make the cut at The Masters two weeks ago. At 14-years-old, he's also the youngest player ever to compete in first major championship of the year too.

His strong showing at Augusta National earned the youngster a spot into the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this week (sponsor exemption). And word on the street is Tianlang is going to try and qualify for the U.S. Open in June. We've already seen a 14-year-old qualify for the U.S. Open, but if Tianlang were to earn a spot he'd be the youngest player ever to participate.

But before we anoint Tianlang as The Next Tiger Woods, John Paul Newport reminds us that the "road from success at 14 years old to adult stardom is long and disjointed."
So when Guan gets taller, stronger and longer, he's a surefire Hall of Famer, right? Don't count on it. In fact, despite all of the above, the odds are against him.

The road from success at 14 years old to adult stardom is long and disjointed. "Golf is so different from other sports because careers are so long," said Pia Nilsson, who has coached Annika Sorenstam, Suzann Pettersen and Ai Miyazato, among others. "Very often the boys and girls who are good at an early age are not the ones who are good later on."

In sports like gymnastics, diving and ice skating, motivated youngsters with an extensive coaching and support system peak in their teens. Then they're done. But before golf prodigies reach their prime, at the earliest in their 20s and more often in their 30s, a lot of life intervenes.

"Of course, you can learn to get very good at a young age. We see that more and more, especially in Asia, where very young boys and girls are practicing harder and harder," Nilsson said. "But being the best golfer you can possibly be requires long-term thinking and an understanding that we are human beings and we have to grow up."
So Tianlang might not grow up to be the best golfer ever, but he's in a unique position at the moment so why not milk it for all it's worth? We'll be able to 'Monday Morning Quarterback' Tianlang's parents decisions for years to come. In the interim, let's just watch the kid play and see what happens!

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Image via @Guan_Tianlang

[ comments ]
legitimatebeef says:
I was superimpressed by his Masters outing but at this point enough already. Go finish puberty, learn how to drive a motor vehicle etc. He is preternaturally good at golf but lets face it he is still a fourteen year old dinking it around, not a legitimate contender at the top level. As a golf fan there's only so much of that I care to hear about.
srogers13 says:
The word on his sponsor invite is that he trained with a guy in NOLA who help his game (no prob with this). He has even helped give tips to other juniors. In his mind, this is giving back to the teacher.
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