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By Matt McCoy
Five weeks from now the Memorial Tournament will be teeing off at the Muirfield Villiage Golf Club in Dublin. Another world class field is expected and it might include an 8th grader.
14-year old Tianlang Guan took the golfing world by storm with his performance at the Masters. Guan, the youngest player to ever participate in the Masters, made the cut despite being penalized a stroke in round two for slow play.
"Can you imagine giving a 14-year old a penalty?," Jack Nicklaus said at Wednesday's Legends Luncheon in Columbus. "How many putts did I stand over for hours and never got penalized and they give it to this 14-year old kid. That's so bad."
Nicklaus lauded Guan's play, poise and maturity and admitted, "I'd love to have him come (to the Memorial) and play."
And it could happen. Guan is playing at this week's PGA tour event in New Orleans on a sponsor's exemption and he is interested in playing in Jack's tournament next month as well.
"There is a request that's come from him to come and play," Memorial Tournament Director Dan Sullivan said. "There's an exemption committee that will review that in the next couple weeks and without a doubt there's consideration."
Nicklaus is the tournament founder and host but the ultimate decision is out of his hands. Nonetheless, given his fondness for Guan and his family, I have to believe we'll see the young phenom in the tournament field.
Jack talks Tiger
Five time Memorial Tournament winner and the defending champion Tiger Woods is expected to be in the field. Woods has reclaimed his status as number one in the World Golf Rankings but his drought in major championships has reached five years.
Woods was the favorite at the Masters but finished tied for fourth. His tournament came undone in round two when his second shot on the par five 15th hit the flag stick and rolled into the water. Subsequently, he took what turned out to be an illeagal drop which cost him two more strokes.
"He had a horrible break. He hit a great shot and was going to make four and instead makes eight and loses by four shots," Nicklaus said.
Woods, with 14 major championships on his resume, has made no secret that his number one goal is to break Jack's record of 18.
"He lost the Masters by four shots," Nicklaus said. "I don't know whether in his mind he thinks, 'I should have won that golf tournament' (were it not for a bad break) or it might take him the other way in thinking 'Maybe I'm snakebit and can't get there.' I just don't know (what he's thinking.)"
Nicklaus has maintained that Woods will break his record and despite his failures in recent majors, Jack says there's nothing wrong with Woods overall game.
"He's a good player...I mean a really good player," Nicklaus said. "He's won five times at our place and eight times at Arnold's (Palmer--at Bay Hill)...That's pretty good isn't it? The guy is unbelievably talented."
Nicklaus, Furyk and Roberts
The Legends Luncheon, held at the Ohio Union, raised more than a half-million dollars for Nationwide Children's Hospital. It also featured 2002 Memorial Tournament winner Jim Furyk and reporter Jimmy Roberts, who joined Nicklaus in a roundtable discussion about golf. If you love the game, you'll enjoy it. To listen to the audio click HERE:
After the luncheon, Nicklaus met with reporters and discussed the renovation of the clubhouse at Muirfield, Tianlang Guan, Tiger Woods and more. To listen click HERE: