Jeffrey Guan’s driving force
'A tour player in a 17-year-old body’ – How an Endeavour Sports High School student is wowing the golfing world. Glenn Cullen reports.
21 April 2022
After 69 holes of measured play and through little fault of his own, the Australian Junior Amateur Golf Championship appeared to be slipping away from Jeffrey Guan.
For much of the tournament, The Endeavour Sports High School Year 12 student had looked certain to join a rare group of players including Masters winner Adam Scott in twice-winning Australian amateur golf’s most glittering junior prize.
A bevy of birdies from one of his competitors suddenly put that in doubt.
By the time West Australian Joseph Buttress had completed the 16th hole on the final day, he was up a shot and well placed for a daylight robbery at South Australia’s The Vines Golf Club.
Yet in a sport which can send even the most level-headed to the psychiatrist’s couch, Jeffrey managed to stop, take stock, and steel himself.
He would close with two birdies in the last three holes to claim the title by three shots.
This was no one-off.
“He has that rare ability that when he needs to make a birdie or hit a shot – he just does it every time,” golf pro Paul Davis, who has known Guan since he was four years old, says.
“Most guys get towards the end and feel the pressure and hit wayward shots. When he is under the pump, he just hits better shots. It’s a massive trait to have and he does that better than anyone I have ever seen.
“Technically, he’s not the best kid I’ve ever seen, but his management is next level. He’s a tour player in a 17-year-old body.”
Mr Davis’s observations appear to be anything but idle talk with several good golf judges earmarking him as one of the best young Australian talents they have seen.
Jeffrey says he loves the mental aspects of the sport.
“For me, it’s more like a problem-solving game. I feel like as soon as you solve a problem – hitting a good shot, or a putt that goes in – it just makes you feel good.
“I think my dad (Ken) has taught me well in that side of things.”
And the practical aspects of the sport, too.
From the age of four, Ken took his son to his home course of Bexley Golf Club in Sydney’s south. He’d be seen most days chipping and putting away, as his dad politely asked if they could pay green fees to play a hole or two before the sun went down.
The club would have none of it, allowing him to, as Mr Davis put it, “become probably the youngest member of a golf club in the history of golf.”
From junior tournaments at six years of age, to winning the A-grade championship by 12 and the club championship by 14, Jeffrey has more than repaid the club’s gesture.
In 2021 he took out the Australian Boys’ Amateur title as a 16-year-old and finished runner-up at the Australian Men’s Amateur Championship.
Invited by none other than Scott himself to play at the Adam Scott Junior Championship in California in February this year, Guan won by an extraordinary eight strokes.
All this while continuing his schoolwork in an HSC year.
“I can tell you that he is an outstanding student who is highly respected by staff and his peers,” says Endeavour Sports High School principal James Kozlowski. “He is incredibly humble and goes about combining the sporting and academic elements of his life with little fuss.”
For Jeffrey, it’s a two-way street.
“My teachers have helped me so much,” he says.
Like most young golfers, his ultimate ambition is to play on the US PGA Tour. He’s leaning towards trying his luck at qualifying school next year, but is also expected to get some college offers in the US.
Mr Davis says regardless of the pathway; a big future awaits.
“I have no doubt he’ll be a world top 50 player in the next few years and be a household name with people,” he says.