Singapore Open stars hail Chinese prodigy

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 08 2012 02:22 PM | Updated as of Nov 08 2012 10:22 PM

SINGAPORE - Four-time Major-winner Phil Mickelson and India's Jeev Milkha Singh Wednesday hailed the historic achievement of China's Guan Tianlang in qualifying for the US Masters at the age of just 14.

Mickelson said he was excited that Asian amateurs had the chance to reach the Masters, through the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship won by Guan on Sunday, while Singh called it "fantastic".

In April, Guan will become the prestigious tournament's youngest ever player when he tees off aged 14 years, five months and 17 days.

"Fourteen years old and playing the Masters. I don't think I'd be able to tee-off on the first hole, I'd be so nervous," said Singh, at the $6 million Singapore Open.

"I think it's fantastic to see that Chinese kid win and gets into the Masters. I think it's a fantastic thing that the Augusta National people have introduced for the top amateur guys to play.

"I think he should just cherish that and make the most out of the week. And my advice to him would be to just stay patient and don't get carried away. Just do what he is doing to win and enjoy every moment."

Mickelson said Guan's solid putting, which he needed when saving par on his final hole for a one-shot win, would help him at the famed Augusta course.

"I think it is exciting that amateur players all across Asia have a chance to compete in probably the best tournament in the world," Mickelson said.

"It helps young kids dream and aspire to greatness in the game and I think this is really a great thing.

"I've not seen him play, I heard he's a really great putter which will be key factor in Augusta, and should help him score well."

Schoolboy Guan, from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, started playing at the age of four and won the world junior title by 11 shots last year in San Diego.

In April, he made history as the youngest player to take part in a European Tour event when he played the Volvo China Open in Tianjin at the age of 13 years and 177 days.

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