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Saturday, April 13, 2013

What You Can Learn from Tianlang Guan

Yep, the 8th grader did it. And he proved something that I've said over and over on this blog:

We make this freaking game too hard.


According to GC the average score for both rounds was just over 73 (+1) and 74 (+2), respectively. Tian shot 73 and 75, that last one including a one-stroke penalty for slow play. So a 120 lb 14-year-old shot the average score of a gang of pros on a course set up for a major.

But that's not all. That course was around 7500 yards long, and he got the bad end of the draw. He had to hit fairway woods into greens that most of the pros were hitting with short or medium irons, in bad weather, and he hit less than half of them. (GC said he hit 17 out of 36.) His short game got a good workout, from what I understand, but I'd say he did pretty well.

How well? Well, he tied last year's winner, Bubba Watson, for one thing.

And how about the major winners who didn't even make the cut? Y.E. Yang, Larry Mize, Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Ben Curtis, Mark O'Meara, Mike Weir, Padraig Harrington, Tom Watson, Craig Stadler, Ian Woosnam, and Ben Crenshaw. I know you want to say some of those guys are "too old" to count... but are you telling me they couldn't hit the ball at least as far as Tian? Not to mention that they have that all-important "course knowledge" that everybody says is so important.

And how about those bombers who are supposed to have such a big advantage, like Nicolas Colsaerts? Or the king of clutch, Ian Poulter? Or multiple WGC winner, Hunter Mahan?

None of the players in those last two paragraphs will play the weekend. Tian will.

Tian doesn't have all the skills of a pro. He doesn't have the power of an adult. He doesn't have the knowledge of an experienced player. (If he did, he might not have gotten that penalty stroke.) Hell, he probably doesn't even have a glamorous girlfriend like Wozniacki or Vonn to follow him around! (We do know he's popular with the girls back home, however. Thank you, ESPN.)

None of this stopped Tian from being the only amateur to make the cut, which guarantees him the low amateur trophy.

Here's what you should learn: Tian's swing and approach to this game are so simple that they didn't fall apart under pressure. He didn't try to do more than he's capable of, and he didn't apologize for not doing more than he could. He just played the game and had fun. You can do that, can't you?

Don't make this game hard when it doesn't need to be. When you're tempted to do so, just think about Tian. I can promise you that he doesn't.

The photo came from this page at Yahoo Sports.

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