April 19, 2012
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Chinese record-breaker, 13, targets US Open

Chinese golf prodigy Guan Tianlang, 13, is not content with smashing the record as the youngest player in a European Tour event as he wants to make the cut and reach this year's US Open too.

The world junior champion will enter the history books when he plays this week's Volvo China Open aged 13 years and 177 days -- beating the record of Lo Shih-kai, who was 13 years and 280 days old at the 2003 Hong Kong Open.

Now the slight Guan, who was given last-minute clearance by the China Golf Association, has set his sights on becoming the youngest to make the cut, and he also wants to reach this year's US Open, via qualifying.

"My goal for this week is to try to make the cut. Long term I was the youngest player to win the China amateur championship and it would be nice to be the youngest to win the (Volvo China) Open," Guan said.

"After this tournament I think I want to try to qualify for the US Open," he added, in comments released by tournament organisers to AFP.

Guan, who started playing when he was just four and only became a teenager in October, claimed the world junior crown last year in San Diego by 11 shots on the back of a first-round 63, featuring nine birdies and no bogeys.

At Tianjin Binhai Lake Golf Club, the Guangzhou schoolboy will compete in the same field as England's Ian Poulter, who finished seventh at this month's US Masters, and fellow Ryder Cup star Paul Casey.

"I am really excited about playing. This is my biggest event and I really want to do well," Guan said in fluent English.

"I have never played on this course before until (Monday). It is very windy and it might be a little bit long for me.

"I don't know who I will be playing with yet but I would like to play with Poulter. He is a real character player."

Guan's immediate target is the 2008 record of Jason Hak, who made the cut at that year's Hong Kong Open aged 14 years and 304 days, beating the earlier mark set by Sergio Garcia.

But despite his heady ambitions, Guan said he was keeping well on top of his schoolwork, and was among the best in his class.

"I don't have a problem with school and golf. Actually I do quite well at school and I am in the top section of my class," Guan said.

China Open operations director Alistair Polson said Guan was capable of making the cut in the field of 156, describing him as mature as well as talented.

"Anyone who has seen Guan play would not rule him out from making the cut -- he really is a talented young player," Polson said.

"He displays a maturity well beyond his 13 years and doesn't seem fazed by spectators or the intrusive nature of the media."

AFP

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