Teenage golf prodigy Guan slips back after early Open birdie blitz
Guan Tianlang of China hits a drive during the fourth round of the 77th Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia on April 14, 2013
The 15-year-old amateur performed flawlessly in his opening 13 holes but was undone by three consecutive bogeys before a costly triple bogey on the ninth -- the penultimate hole of his first round.
Guan, who caused a stir at the US Masters this year when he became the youngest player to make the cut in a major, said he was disappointed with his finish but still confident for the rest of the tournament.
"I was playing really well the first 12 holes. I made a lot of birdies and gave myself a lot of opportunities.
"After that I was really not feeling comfortable with my swing and I drove a couple in the rough," the Guangzhou schoolboy added.
Guan opened his bid for glory at the par-70 Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on the 11th hole and quickly made a charge up the leaderboard.
He birdied the par-three 12th and followed it up immediately with a birdie four on 13.
He then made further birdies on the 17th and 18th -- the latter being one of the toughest holes on the course.
Guan scored a second two of the day on hole number two and consolidated his spot at the top of the leaderboard on five under with three pars before his round took a turn for the worse.
Bogeys at the sixth, seventh and eighth saw him drop off the pace while a triple bogey seven at the par-four ninth put him at one over.
Guan said he was "a little bit" disappointed, adding: "But that's golf. These things happen sometimes.
"I'm going to the driving range to work on my swing and solve some problems.
"It's still all right for me and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm still feeling pretty good."
Guan played in a group with colourful American John Daly, who struggled to an eight-over-par 78, and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, who signed for a 69.
Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, 34 years older than Guan, is the favourite to win the event, co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Asian Tour, which is missing its usual star names as it clashes with two other tournaments.
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