Chinese phenom Guan Tian-lang turned 14 last week but already plays like a tour pro. With his balanced swing and short game wizardry, he's leading the prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand by five shots after two rounds. If he wins, he gets an invitation to the 2013 Masters and would be the youngest to play in the major championship.
Guan also looks like a tour pro, thanks to a Canadian company. His bold and co-ordinated outfits are made by Mississauga-based Sligo Wear Inc.
In the second round at Amata Spring Country Club on Friday, Guan sported Sligo's Adesso polo shirt in "sunburst" yellow, and indigo plaid pants. Both are from Sligo's 2012 fall collection.
Guan's game was just as bright – nine birdies en route to an eight-under-par 64 and a five-shot cushion over Prin Sirisommai of Thailand and Oliver Goss of Australia.
Sligo co-founder Shawn Aucoin says the company's distributor in China has outfitted Guan for the past couple of years. Over that time, Guan has won a world junior championship and became the youngest to compete (at 13) in a European Tour event (the Volvo China Open last April).
"We also have on staff the two top-ranked Chinese professional golfers, Wu Ashun and Liang Wen-chong, who are competing in the WGC [HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championships event] this week," Aucoin said by e-mail Friday morning. "Not bad for a little company out of Mississauga."
The eight-year-old company, founded by four friends who were frustrated by golf's traditionally boring and boxy fashions, also sponsors Canadian Graham DeLaet, American Brian Gay and Russell Knox of Scotland on the PGA Tour. DeLaet, Canada's highest-ranked male golfer, signed on this year.
The Asia-Pacific Amateur was created in 2009 and is backed by the Masters, as well as the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation and the R&A. Its purpose is to build the game in Asia and area.
An invitation to the Masters is extended to the winner. Both the winner and runners-up also get a direct pass into the final stage of qualifying for the Open Championship.
This year's edition wraps up Sunday.
"Everyone here wants to win and go to Augusta," Guan, who lives in Guangzhou and spends his summer training in California, told reporters at Amata, near Bangkok. "That would be amazing, but for now I need to focus on my game this weekend."
Spoken like a pro.