Tianlang Guan, the youngest Masters competitor ever, hit his drives on average 10 yards shorter than the next shortest competitor who made the cut, and 42 yards shorter than the leader, Robert Garrigus. "But he never overswung," Crenshaw marveled. "He was true to his swing, his rhythm, his balance. My gosh, all the rest of us at 14 were trying to swing off our feet. He displayed a wisdom well beyond his years."
Guan compensated with an uncanny short game. He tied for first (with Rickie Fowler) in putting and was one of only two players (Lee Westwood was the other) with no three-putts for the week. "He played about four of the most delicate pitches you have ever seen," Crenshaw said earlier.
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."