Tianlang Guan’s performance at The Masters has not only put his name on the golfing map, but also a nation with over one billion citizens. Normally when a sportsman has success you turn on your local news to see the Mayor express her joy and amazement and quite possibly offer him or her the ‘keys to the city’. Only one man had that pleasure in China, and he was killed by Agent Smith. At 14 years old, Tianlang Guan is about to experience pressure that none of us can fathom. At 14 he has become a national icon.
One thing that did seem quite evident during The Masters was Guan’s maturity and ostensibly unexcitable gaze. Nothing will be more important in the coming weeks for him other than to simply ignore 95% of what is both said about him, and to him. This is where his native culture will play a huge role and in my opinion, a positive one.
China appears to be very different from Western cultures when it comes to media scrutiny and national support. Now having never read a Chinese newspaper for obvious reasons I’m risking making statements based on falsehoods, but I’ve done that before. Although the pressure is obviously huge on athletes from backgrounds such as China, the national media doesn’t appear to scrutinise and persecute in the same way as ours does. And also, and more importantly as China is fast becoming a world superpower, companies like Samsung are signalling a nations intention by taking on Apple, who probably have more money than America anyway. With China developing so quickly worldwide, Guan’s rise will tie in nicely with the rest, meaning he’s not the only native on the rise. He will escape the pressures of sportsmen and women before him due to his indigenous cohorts doing exactly the same in many other fields.
It seems the heaviest pressures positioned on kids in China comes from the parents. Even more so than in the U.K! Guan’s Father will still play the most decisive role in his future success. We all know of people who if it were not for their pushy parents would’ve probably gone further in their careers, hopefully Guan’s will move heaven and earth for him without being hell.
Finally, he needs to remain an amateur for at least another two years. In my opinion the best thing that can happen when he plays in New Orleans is for him to recognise the currently unfavourable and unchangeable differences between him and the rest at this present moment. Premature success is only premature if the beholder cannot cope with the psychological consequences. And although Guan seems incredibly mature at 14 and probably capable of analysing experiences correctly, when you have fewer hairs than an egg, competing as a professional should almost certainly wait.
From an eager Owl ready for tomorrow, Cheers.