Sandy Lyle shows 14-year-old Guan Tianlang how to ride a roller coaster

Lyle, 55, pips Guan, 14, on the final round  but predicts a big future for youngster

Augusta National

It was quite a week for The Kid. Most 14-year-olds can’t even make their beds. But Guan Tianlang from Guangzhou, China made history, becoming the youngest ever competitor at the Masters and the youngest in any major since Young Tom Morris played in the 1860 Open at Prestwick.

The Kid, as the patrons dubbed Guan, was embraced by golf’s royalty as former Masters champions gave him lessons that will prove more valuable in his career than anything in a maths textbook. He played practice rounds with Tiger Woods and Tom Watson, played the first two rounds with Ben Crenshaw, took his one-shot penalty for slow play on Friday like a man, and charmed everyone who watched him at Augusta.

He completed his memorable week playing the final round with Sandy Lyle on the 25th anniversary of the Scot’s 1988 victory. Guan finished 12 over par after rounds of 73, 75, 77 and 75 to win the Amateur silverware as the only non-professional to make the cut. Lyle won their personal battle with a final round of one under par to finish at nine over par. “I think he was surprised how well the old farts can play,” Lyle said.

Sandy and The Kid set off up the first fairway shortly after breakfast time yesterday five hours before the leaders, yet the crowds were already huge for Masters Sunday. Sandy slapped his opening drive. It went straight down the middle, as Bing Crosby used to sing. The Kid hooked his into the trees and could do nothing but hack out sideways. Sandy sent his approach to 10 feet. The Kid’s trickled back down the slope that protects the green, chipped up and two-putted for bogey. Lyle drained his birdie chance as if to say: “Take that, sonny.”

So what did the Kid learn from Lyle? Firstly, that course management skills, and 32 years of playing the Masters will go some way to making up for the 55-year-old’s fading power and swing. “It’s getting like Disney World out there, the greens are so fast,” Lyle said. Ironic, then, that he got to share this roller-coaster ride with a 14-year-old.

The Kid’s swing has been constructed in a Chinese academy after hours of analyses of statistics and swing planes. He paints by numbers. You wonder if he will have to park up at a garage when the mechanics break down. Golf swings always break down. The Kid only had to look at his partner to see the awful truth. Sandy used to have one of the most graceful, pure swings ever. Now he plays with a stutter halfway through his backswing as if he’s checking that the club is on the right path. Every time he steps over the ball it’s like watching a tightrope walker juggling plates over the lion pit – without a safety net. Then when he finds the green, he doesn’t so much have a putter as a branding iron.

The Kid chose a belly putter, too, for the Masters and didn’t make a single three-putt (proof, if it were still needed, that they do give an advantage) but he will now go back to a conventional one. He needs to speed up, too. Or learn to cheat the clock like the tour’s snails. “The whole week was great,” he said. “I think I did a pretty good job. This is my first time to play in front of all the people and they were really nice to me and I appreciate them watching me.”

Lyle predicted a bright future. “He’s on the right track. He’s not a textbook, perfect swing now but I’m sure that will be ironed out in the next few years,” Lyle said. “If he can stay untouched by too many teachers and just play his natural game, he’ll be in good shape.”

Remember Guan’s name. We could still be calling him The Kid when he’s in his fifties.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis