Masters: China's Guan Tianlang, 14, opens with 73 at Augusta
China's Guan Tianlang, the youngest player in Masters history at 14, carded a first-round 73 at Augusta to stand a good chance of making the cut.
Guan carded five bogeys and four birdies in his one-over-par round, the last birdie coming from just off the green on the 18th.
"I was thinking a 78 was par for Guan so in my mind he shot five under par. However, I wouldn't be surprised if this was his best score of the week, you can't be hitting drivers and hybrids all week and he can't do any better. But his was the round of the day, the highlight of the day, and this is a heck of a story."
"I felt a little bit nervous on the first tee," said Guan, who played with two-time winner Ben Crenshaw, 61.
"But I hit a great tee shot and, after that, everything felt comfortable."
Guan's opening round left him seven shots off the lead but ahead of defending champion Bubba Watson, England's world number 12 Ian Poulter and a host of other seasoned pros.
World number one Tiger Woods, Guan's idol who played a nine-hole practice round with him on Tuesday, was only three shots better off and world number two Rory McIlroy was only one stroke ahead.
"Today was pretty special for me," Guan said. "I did a pretty good job. People were nice, cheering for me.
"It's like a dream come true. I played good golf. It just feels great."
Schoolboy Guan secured his place at Augusta by winning last year's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand.
He started his Masters debut with a bogey but responded with a birdie at the par-four third.
Bogeys at the seventh and ninth saw him drop back again but Guan held his nerve, making birdies at 10, 12 and 13.
On the 18th, Guan hit a hybrid club approach to 20 feet and sunk the putt, to wild applause from the Augusta patrons.
Guan Tianlang facts
- Born: 25 October 1998
- Lives: Guangzhou, China
- Started playing golf aged 4
- Eighth-grade student at Zhixin High School
- Favourite player is Tiger Woods
- Won the Asia-Pacific Amateur in November to qualify for the Masters
- Youngest player to win on the China Amateur Futures Tour (aged 11 in 2010) and the China Amateur Tour (aged 12 in 2011)
- Won the 2011 China Amateur Open and the 2011 Junior World Golf Championship
Crenshaw said the Chinese teenager performed like a "veteran".
"He played about four of the most beautiful delicate pitches you've ever seen," the American said.
"It must help to have 14-year-old nerves. He played like a veteran. He played like a 28-year-old journeyman who has been around.
"He played a beautiful round of golf."
Also playing with Guan on the opening day was the previous youngest player in Masters history, Italy's Matteo Manassero, who was 16 when he made the cut in 2010.
Meanwhile, British amateur champion Alan Dunbar went round in 83.
The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland went to the turn in 46 with his first par of the day coming on the ninth, but came back in 37 to restore some pride.
"I was just trying to stay positive," Dunbar said, who took a triple-bogey eight at the second hole.
"I didn't get off to an ideal start. I had trouble at the first and the second and then I just kept leaving myself the wrong side of the hole on the front nine. I couldn't get going."