Teenager will bring new excitement to Masters

 

 
 
 
 
Guan Tianlang of China, tournament winner, left, and Taiwan's Cheng-Tsung Pan, runner-up, pose with the winner's trophy on the final day of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship golf at Amata Spring Country Club, in Chonburi, Thailand Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.
 

Guan Tianlang of China, tournament winner, left, and Taiwan's Cheng-Tsung Pan, runner-up, pose with the winner's trophy on the final day of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship golf at Amata Spring Country Club, in Chonburi, Thailand Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.

Photograph by: Paul Lakatos, AP

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Items that may grow up to be columns, Vol. XIV, Chapter 7:

YOUNG OFFENDER: Do you think they’re high-fiving one another around chairman Billy Payne’s office at Augusta National, now that the club’s decision a few years back to plough funds and expertise into the Asian markets has yielded a 14-year-old Chinese kid who has qualified for the 2013 Masters ... using a belly putter?

Unlikely.

Giving the winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur an exemption into the Masters seemed like a good idea at the time, though there’s little doubt the move was, first and foremost, aimed at international TV numbers and extending the tournament’s (and golf’s) reach into a fast-emerging market.

But now they’ve got the worst-case scenario: Guan Tianlang, an eighth-grader who never did learn to putt the traditional way. And he’s headed their way, the youngest player by miles ever to qualify for the Masters and the second 14-year-old in as many years to qualify for a major (following Andy Zhang at last year’s U.S. Open.) “I feel very proud to be playing in the 2013 US Masters at Augusta - I know I have the game to win it and take golf in China to a new level,” Guan wrote on his Twitter account, proving he really is 14.

BRITISH IRE-ISH: “In other words, the future stars are now not even bothering learning the complexities of putting with orthodox equipment, and why should they when this form of legalized cheating offers such an easy way out?” writes Derek Lawrenson in the Daily Mail. “The Royal and Ancient and the United States Golf Association have seen the future, and know that if they don’t act now a conventional putter in another decade will be about as common as a persimmon driver.”

DILLY, MEET DALLY: The USGA and R&A have talked the anchoring issue to death but still haven’t got around to banning belly putters, though they’re expected to do it within a matter of months -- and then, no doubt, will face a series of legal challenges from the players who are making millions by anchoring their putters: Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Adam Scott (who anchors a longer version to his chest) and a growing legion of others.

SOUR SCOTT: Tiger Woods’s idea of mandating that the putter be the shortest club in a tournament professional’s bag has raised a few eyebrows, but in Adam Scott, all it’s raised is his hackles.

Not only does the Aussie think Woods is all wet about the length of putters -- not surprisingly, since Scott’s entire career turned around when he went to the broomstick implement -- he argues that the debate over long putters is hiding the real problem in golf: i.e., length off the tee, with juiced driver faces and shafts, and turbo-powered golf balls.

Of course, the sport’s governing bodies aren’t about to kill the manufacturers’ golden geese. Balls and drivers make golf’s economic world go round. Putters are relatively low-hanging fruit. If they ban the long ones, they’ll simply sell more short ones.

NO FUN LEAGUE: Hardly. In the space of a couple of days, I saw two things I had never seen before in NFL games: a fake field goal in which the Pittsburgh Steelers’ holder takes the snap and then casually flings the ball over his right shoulder to the kicker, Canadian Shaun Suisham, as he runs past (it didn’t work; the Giants sniffed it out), and Philadelphia’s Riley Cooper lying flat on his belly in the endzone, hiding on the “Saints” lettering, then getting up after the New Orelans kickoff to take a lateral, cross-field pass from the receiver, Brandon Boykin, completely fooling the home team’s cover unit.

Cooper went the distance for a touchdown but it was called back because Boykin’s pass travelled a couple of yards forward, spoiling a play that might have been on highlight packages forever .. and prolonged Andy Reid’s coaching career.

A MATTER OF TATE: So, Kevin Glenn goes 10-5 as the Calgary Stampeders’ starting QB, essentially salvaging what might have been a lost season after Drew Tate was hurt in early July -- but loses his start in the West semifinal, because Tate is healthy again?

Make no mistake, Tate is good, and he’s clearly the team’s future. He has more than a little Matt Dunigan/Dave Dickenson moxie to him -- and Glenn has always seemed to me the kind of quarterback who was just about to make the mistake that would cost you the game.

But 10-5 is 10-5. Sitting him is harsh, even for John Hufnagel, who isn’t exactly Mr. Softy.

BRAND POWER: The same @LAKings team Twitter account that inflamed Vancouver Canucks fans last spring with “To everyone in Canada outside BC, you're welcome" after the Kings’ Game 1 win, is back poking the bear.

During, and after, Whitecaps FC’s playoff loss to the LA Galaxy, the Kings’ resident wits tweeted: “Hat tip to the @lariotsquad with their ‘No Stanley Cup’ taunts at the @lagalaxy vs. Vancouver game.” And later: “Congrats to the @lagalaxy for knocking Canada’s only hope out of the #MLSPlayoffs.”

If hockey ever comes back, this could develop into a pretty nifty rivalry.

Meanwhile, on U.S. election day Tuesday, this one appeared: “@LAKings: Remember, your vote could decide who congratulates us at the White House.”

Pretty clever.

MORE CLEVER THAN ... NHLPA head Don Fehr holding a media scrum prior to negotiations with the league Tuesday in New York, then telling reporters that the meeting place would remain secret, as per the NHL’s request.

Here’s a thought: hop in a cab and follow Fehr to wherever he was headed next. Mystery solved.

PARTING SHOTS: Prediction: it won’t be long before Khalif Mitchell’s Sidehow Bob act wears thin, and the B.C. Lions show the gifted defensive tackle the door ... You know how you sometimes cringe when you see live theatre, because you feel for the actors laying it all out there on stage? Same reaction to our own @HarrisonMooney, Vancouver Sun copy editor by day, PassItToBulis/PuckDaddy blogger and singer/dancer in a hilarious anti-lockout music video parody “Call The Union” by night. The guy has guts, is all I know ... And finally, from the Hamilton Spectator’s Drew Edwards: “@scratchingpost Ticats Angelo Mosca returns to CFL Alumni lunch this year, auctioning his cane from last year's scrap with Joe Kapp (who's not invited.)”

The CFL, man. Nothing like it.

ccole@vancouversun.com

 
 
 
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Guan Tianlang of China, tournament winner, left, and Taiwan's Cheng-Tsung Pan, runner-up, pose with the winner's trophy on the final day of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship golf at Amata Spring Country Club, in Chonburi, Thailand Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.
 

Guan Tianlang of China, tournament winner, left, and Taiwan's Cheng-Tsung Pan, runner-up, pose with the winner's trophy on the final day of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship golf at Amata Spring Country Club, in Chonburi, Thailand Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.

Photograph by: Paul Lakatos, AP

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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