Guan said he has been watching the Masters every year since 2005, when Woods hit a chip from behind the green on the par-3 16th that hung on the lip for a second before it took one last turn and dropped for birdie, carrying him to a playoff win and his fourth green jacket.
Woods is his favorite player. Along with hitting a tee shot with him on the 17th hole during the HSBC Champions pro-am in Shanghai, he met Woods again during a Nike clinic at Mission Hills a year later.
I think he has a strong mind and a strong heart, so I think that’s why he’s so great, a good player,” Guan said. “I played the hole each time with Tiger, and he knows me the second time,” Guan said. “We talk a little bit and I just really like him.”
Guan would like to play a practice round with Woods at the Masters “or anyone else, because the guys that go to Augusta are all fantastic players.”
He became the first Chinese player to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur, which was created by Augusta National and the Royal & Ancient to help inspire growth in the emerging golf nations of Asia. This was the fourth year for the tournament.
Along with getting into the Masters, Guan earns a spot in the final stage of qualifying for the British Open. Pan, the runner-up, also gets a spot in the British Open qualifier.
Guan, who opened with rounds of 66-64 to build a five-shot lead, finished at 15-under 273. He felt the pressure toward the end of the final round after a bogey on the 16th hole. But he handled the island-green 17th with a par, and then clipped a 60-degree sand wedge for his 5-foot par putt and the win.
Oliver Goss of Australia, a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Amateur, closed with a 72 to finish third. Hideki Matsuyama, Asia’s No. 1 amateur who was going for his third straight Asia-Pacific Amateur title, shot 68 and was five shots behind. Matsuyama made the cut at the Masters the last two years.
“I’m so excited,” Guan said. “I’m really happy to become the youngest player at the Masters and looking forward to going there. I don’t know what’s going to happen there, but I know I just want to do well.”
Guan added to what already has been an historic year at Augusta National, which in August invited Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice to become the first female members in its 80-year history. In April, there will be two women in green jackets, and an eighth-grader from China trying to win a green jacket.
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