Chinese golfing sensation Guan Tian-lang is set to star in the Hong Kong Open from December 5-8.
The youngster may have only turned 15 a couple of weeks ago, but his appearance at the Hong Kong Golf Club will bring down the curtain on a year that not even Hollywood’s finest writers could have scripted.
Having qualified for this year’s Masters Tournament by winning the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, Guan took the golfing world by storm at Augusta National as he became the youngest player in history to make the cut in a Major Championship, finishing in 58th position.
That performance captured the imagination of the golfing world and ensured Guan a level of celebrity that most professionals would be proud of as he secured invitations to play in a further four PGA Tour events before returning to China in August to resume his studies and practice schedule.
He will, however, make a welcome return to the world stage at the Hong Kong Golf Club at the beginning of December, when Miguel Angel Jiménez will defend his title.
Before the US$ 1.3 million tournament gets under way, Guan will be the star attraction at a special golf skills clinic at the Hong Kong Golf Club on November 20, when he will meet children from four local schools and offer tips and advice on the game he has mastered at such a young age.
“I am thrilled to have been invited to play in as prestigious an event as the Hong Kong Open,” said Guan, who set a then record as the youngest man to play in a European Tour event at the 2012 Volvo China Open aged just 13 years old.
“This year has just been an incredible journey for me. Making the cut at The Masters was a very special achievement for me and I hope to be able to produce a similar performance at the Hong Kong Golf Club in December.
“When you get the opportunity to play against world class players you cannot refuse because it is the best environment to learn and gain experience and I would love to play all four rounds at the Hong Kong Golf Club.”
Joining Guan at the Hong Kong Open will be another of China’s most promising young talents, Jason Hak.
It was in November 2008, aged 14 years and 304 days, that Hak made history as the youngest player to make the cut in a European Tour event at the Hong Kong Open.
That record has since been reset by Guan’s cut-making performance at the Masters (aged 14 years and 169 days), but Hak’s performance five years ago will live long in the memory.
Hak was part of the Hong Kong Men’s Team which claimed a silver medal in China’s National Games (also known as China’s ‘Olympics’) this September, and he will be hoping to continue that form at Fanling in the first week of December.
Co-sanctioned by The European and Asian Tours, the Hong Kong Open will be the third tournament in The 2014 Race to Dubai and will be the 13th staging since it became part of The European Tour in 2002.
The Hong Kong Open was first played in 1959 and has a star-studded list of past champions, including Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Colin Montgomerie, José María Olazábal, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy.