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Guan's cousin isn't far behind

Updated: 2013-05-01 07:51
By Tang Zhe in Yangjiang, Guangdong province ( China Daily)

 Guan's cousin isn't far behind

Guan Ruqing plays at the China Amateur Golf Futures Tour event on April 19 in Yangjiang, which she went on to win. Provided to China Daily

While Guan Tianlang was making history at Augusta this month, his cousin Guan Ruqing was also making a significant mark on the golfing landscape.

The Guangzhou girl, who celebrated her 13th birthday on April 26, has already won more than 20 championships at various events, including winning the 2011 HSBC China Junior Golf Open Group D (Under-11) competition and two titles on the China Amateur Golf Futures Tour.

After winning that second trophy on the Futures tour in Yangjiang, Guangdong province, last month, Guan Ruqing, the daughter of Tianlang's uncle, said she was eyeing her cousin's triple-crown feat at the event, and then a move to the international circuits.

"I want to play in the LPGA," said Ruging, who is talkative among her peers, but shy when the cameras focus on her. "My cousin's outstanding performances are a huge motivation for me - he is my model."

Ruqing followed Tianlang onto the course at the age of 5.

"At the beginning, Guan Tianlang taught some kids to play golf for fun but gradually, my daughter became obsessed with the game," said Ruqing's mother, Xu Yanfang, who wanted her daughter to become an artist.

"Drawing is a childhood dream I was not allowed to accomplish; therefore, when I found my daughter had a talent for drawing, I placed my expectations on her," Xu said. "But through the influence of her cousin, her father also supported her in playing golf we had a lot of quarrels in those years."

However, her mother's desires couldn't diminish Ruqing's passion for the game and at the age of 7, she reached an agreement with her mother, who said, "if this is the choice, do your best, otherwise, just drop it".

The mother's attitude has changed dramatically since then. As Ruqing began to play in more events, Xu quit her job to accompany the girl, and set a series of strict rules for her.

Xu was even reluctant to give her daughter a passing mark after she won last month's Future Tours event with rounds of 74, 73 and 74 at the par-72 course.

"Everyone who knows her says her score should be about 68 - some parents said Guan Ruqing shouldn't finish with such scores; she missed too many birdies," Xu said. "We have won lots of championships and our requirement of her is to make improvements in each event, instead of just winning titles."

Xu has also urged her husband to stop acting as Ruqing's caddie, a role many fathers take up, in an effort to make her daughter more independent on the course and better prepared for a professional career.

"Her father was her caddie in some early senior tournaments to give her the confidence and determination to continue to play, but after those early events, I asked him to let her go, because if she turns professional and plays overseas, she must be independent," Xu said.

"While most kids ask for the best caddies in junior tournaments, we just pick one with ease and let her count the yards, choose the clubs and judge the wind. Apart from asking caddies for course information, she is used to making decisions on her own."

Putting and chipping are the biggest headaches for Ruqing.

According to her mother, the regular routine for the schoolgirl is to play golf three hours after school each day.

Constrained by the limited time and the condition of courses in the city, the Guangzhou native can only practice at better courses outside the city on weekends.

Moreover, Xu believes her daughter is on a path to becoming something special on the golf course.

"His (Guan Tianlang's) family sacrificed a lot to reach today's achievements," she said. "We have met hardships and are not even half as devoted as them," Xu said.

"But if Guan Ruqing can play as hard as her cousin, I believe she will be able to catch up with his accomplishments."


(China Daily 05/01/2013 page11)

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