Zurich Classic 2013: Guan Tianlang accepts invitation to play in New Orleans

USA TODAY Sports

After making the cut at the Masters, teen phenom Guan Tianlang will play in this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Guan Tianlang will follow his record-setting Masters appearance with an appearance at this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The youngest golfer, at 14, to start and make the cut at Augusta, Guan accepted a sponsor’s exemption for the event that kicks off on Thursday.

"The Fore!Kids Foundation, host organization of the Zurich Classic, is all about benefiting youth," Steve Worthy, chief executive of the charity, announced last week. "Tianlang Guan represents the aspirations of millions of young golfers and golf fans of all ages worldwide."

Zurich Insurance Group, title sponsor of this week’s tournament, was a founding corporate partner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2009. Guan qualified for the Masters by winning the amateur tourney last year.

The Classic will be as close to a home game for the teenager from China as an event in this country could be. Guan spent a month with a family friend in New Orleans last summer as he practiced for a U.S. Open qualifier, according to PGATour.com.

Guan will tee it up in a robust field that includes 2012 Masters winner Bubba Watson, 2011 PGA titleholder Keegan Bradley, defending champion and “Dufnering” star Jason Dufner, and fellow teen Jordan Spieth who’s 19.

The 2012 contest at TPC Louisiana featured Dufner earning his first tour win with a birdie on the second playoff hole to hold off Ernie Els. Els missed a 16-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of regulation that would have clinched the victory for The Big Easy, who’s had two top-three finishes in the Big Easy.

Guan, by the way, answered questions from Lakewood Golf Club junior golfers on Saturday, according to The Times-Picayune. The whiz kid had this nonchalant comment about the three times he's gone 18 with the world No. 1:

“It’s always fun to play with Tiger.”

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