IRVING, Texas (AP) – Guan Tianlang is one of five amateur players being honored this week for the Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Awards.
While the other four award recipients will be watching the Byron Nelson Championship, the 14-year-old Guan – already the youngest player to make a cut on the PGA Tour – is playing in the tournament.
This is the second PGA Tour event for the eighth-grader from China since making the cut last month at the Masters. He also made the cut at New Orleans, where he first spoke with Nelson officials about playing this week.
“Always a challenge, every tournament, because this is another big event … this is only my third start and everything is still new to me,'' Guan said Wednesday, a day before the Nelson's opening round. “I have to play my best and make some good score.''
The youngster's impressive performance at Augusta has led to invitations to play in other events. He hopes to again be playing in the weekend rounds.
“For this week, I want to enjoy the experience, great experience here,'' Guan said. “And hope to, yeah, make the cut. And if I make the cut hope to play better and better.''
There are two sponsor exemptions playing in this year's Nelson: Guan and 19-year-old Jordan Spieth, the Dallas native playing at TPC Four Seasons for the third time.
Spieth is playing as a pro this time, having made six of nine cuts and already won nearly $700,000 this season. As an amateur at the Nelson, he tied for 16th as a 16-year-old in 2010, then played on the same day as his high school graduation two years ago when he tied for 32nd. He played one season at the University of Texas before turning pro.
“I think it's incredible what he's doing,'' Spieth said about Guan. “He played beyond his years, the composure. I watched him at the Masters and honestly going into it, I thought it would be a little too much for him, and he surprised the whole world. Then to follow it up with a made cut in his second event.''
The two had what Spieth described as “small talk'' when they were on the range next to each other in New Orleans.
This week in the area Spieth calls home, they were near each other on the putting green.
“It was just me and my bag, and he he's got a whole group of people,'' said Spieth, a past recipient of the Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Awards based on golf performance, academic success and community involvement.
Guan has handled the pressure of playing PGA events.
He said he prepared for the Masters for a long time, and that experience helped him in New Orleans and should help him this week.
“Just a long way to go,'' Guan said, adding that he has learned a lot in just two starts. “Yeah, a little used to getting to know what to do on the tour. Best players in the world, what are they doing, what are they playing.''