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On course for golf history

By Tang Zhe (China Daily)

08:51, April 28, 2013

Guan Tianlang in action at the 2011 Aaron Baddeley International Junior Championship at Lion Lake Country Club in Guangdong province in December 2011. By winning the title, Guan qualified for the 2012 Australian Open. (Photo/China Daily)

A Guangdong golf club has provided prodigy Guan with a launch pad to greatness, Tang Zhe reports.

Guan Tianlang became a household name overnight when the 14-year-old recently impressed the world with his performance at the Masters golf tournament in the United States.

For people at Lion Lake Country Club, it is just the climax to his family's long story of hard work and dedication.

Members of Guan's family have been frequent visitors to Lion Lake since the group began allowing him free training and residence at the club in 2010. The family doesn't take weekends or holidays. If there's no school, Guan is on the course.

"Guan's success is not accidental. Unlike other kids who like to play computer games and hang out in their spare time, there are only two things in his world studying and playing golf," said Zheng Jingfen, president of Lion Lake Yijiehongtai Group and a close friend of the family.

Guan's father, Guan Hanwen, was a doctor, and his mother, Liu Hongyu, was an architect. To ensure they had enough time to accompany their son at practice and tournaments, both gave up their jobs before they came to Lion Lake. Guan Hanwen takes care of golf-related affairs, while Liu is responsible for daily life.

"His father used to tell me the family was living off savings to fly around the globe every summer for tournaments. The financial burden is huge. He also used to show concern for the boy's future under such pressure," Zheng said. "I told him just to focus on the development of the boy, and let us handle the pressure for them.

"China is such a big country, as a practitioner in the golf industry, we believe there should be a golf hero. We saw a promising future in this kid, so we decided to support and help him."

The course has proved to be a perfect training ground for Guan.

"The first time we met, his father told me this course is perfect for Langly (Guan Tianlang's nickname). I didn't understand the real meaning of his words until (Lion Lake group) Vice-President (John) Ho went to Augusta with them," Zheng said.

"The 18 greens at Augusta are of the same style as our course, from the sizes to the characteristics, the two courses are like twin sisters," she said.

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