Guan Tianlang’s bid to make it into this year’s Open Championship looks all but over after the 14-year-old Chinese prodigy dropped seven shots off the lead on the opening day of the Asian International Final qualifier yesterday.
The Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand has proved a happy hunting ground for Guan, who won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship there in November to seal a place at the US Masters in April.
He returned to the course eyeing one of the four spots for the 18-21 July event in East Lothian but might have already missed the bus after opening the two-day qualifying tournament with a one-over-par 73.
Guan stumbled on his front nine, dropping a shot on each of the last three holes, and the couple of birdies on the amateur’s way back could not fully offset the damage.
Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman remained on course to become the first player to represent his country in golf’s oldest major after sharing the opening round lead with Japanese amateur Hideki Matsuyama on six-under-par 66.
Rahman was in a similar position in 2011 but was disqualified on the final day after failing to write down a score for the last hole. Matsuyama was also out to avoid a repeat of 2012 heartbreak. The Japanese dropped six shots in the final three holes last year to miss the play-off for the fourth Open place.
Banchory’s James Byrne, who came home in two-under 34, and England’s Stephen Lewton head the British challenge on two-under, with Ireland’s Niall Turner a further shot back.