AUGUSTA, Ga. —Guan Tianlang said he plans to be back in New Orleans soon, the city where he spent a month last summer after trying to qualify for the U.S. Open at Lakewood Country Club.
But first Guan has more pressing business: trying to make the cut at the Masters.
The 14-year-old sensation was not only the low amateur in Thursday’s first round, but shot a 73 that gives him a strong chance to be among the low 50 and ties Friday.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Guan said with occasional help from an interpreter.
“And hopefully to play some good golf today, it just feels great.”
Told junior golfers in New Orleans were planning a Pimento Cheese Sandwich day Thursday in his honor, Guan said, “I think I’ll go back after the Masters and hopefully see them.”
Phil Mickelson rallied from a 2 over start through 11 holes to come home in 1 under 71, but not before he had a scary moment on the 17th tee.
The three-time Masters champion clutched his lower back after hitting his tee shot, but was able to finish the round and said he was OK afterward.
“I just overextended,” Mickleson said, “just hung back a little bit too much and put a little bit more pressure. It doesn’t hurt or bother me. My back feels fine.”
Vonn’s shining moment
World champion skier and Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Vonn isn’t ready to tackle the slopes of Innsbruck or even the steep hills of Augusta National after suffering a serious knee injury during a race in February.
But she was seen Thursday around the clubhouse watching boyfriend Tiger Woods begin his quest for a fifth green jacket.
Vonn wore a wide-brimmed tan hat and a full-length tan dress that mostly concealed the brace on her left leg. Cameras clicked her picture as she watched Woods tee off on No. 1 and come back up No. 9 near the clubhouse.
Vonn and Woods announced their relationship last month.
Vonn’s appearance is just the latest celebrity sighting at the Masters.
Tennis star Caroline Wozniacki caddied for her boyfriend Rory McIlroy during Wednesday’s Par-3 tournament.
And new Augusta National member and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice worked the sixth tee in the Par-3 tournament and Thursday was seen greeting patrons at the club’s new Berckmans Place hospitality facility near the fifth hole.
With an eagle on the par-5 15th hole Thursday, former LSU All-American and 2001 PGA champion David Toms made sure he will leave Augusta with a special prize for the trophy case.
The club gives a pair of crystal goblets to any player who records an eagle during tournament play.
It is just the second eagle for Toms in 15 Masters appearances.
The other came on the par-5 13th in 1999.
There were 10 eagles on 15 Thursday.
The 530-yard hole played to a remarkably low stroke average of 4.355, making it the easiest hole in relation to par.
An ace rookie
Masters rookie Jamie Donaldson of Wales made his first round here especially memorable when he aced the par-3 sixth hole from 177 yards.
The 37-year-old Welshman said he would probably auction the ball and the sixth hole’s flag for charity.
For a hole-in-one, a Masters competitor gets a large crystal bowl. Donaldson shot 74.