Enjoyment main goal for Chinese teen at Masters
- Published: 9/04/2013 at 02:49 AM
- Online news:
Saying he does not feel intimidated by his rivals or awestruck by his surroundings, 14-year-old Chinese schoolboy Guan Tianlang is putting a priority on enjoying his historic Masters debut.
Guan Tianlang of China (L) and Ben Crenshaw of the United States during a practice round prior to the start of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia.
Guan will become the youngest player in Masters history after qualifying to play at Augusta National this week by winning last year's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand.
"It's going to be a little pressure, but I'm not going to push myself too hard. I'm going to enjoy it," Guan said. "I have the confidence. I know I can play well. I'm going to play like myself. I'm not going to try to do too much.
"Just enjoy the tournament and play some good shots and just enjoy it and hopefully I can play well."
On Monday he played a practice round at Augusta National with two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and joined fellow amateurs in the Crow's Nest living area of the clubhouse, the youngest to enjoy that Masters tradition.
"It's hard to believe he's 14," said Crenshaw, who played his first Masters at age 18.
"Today was great to play with Mr. Crenshaw," Guan said. "He told me a lot and we really enjoyed it on the golf course."
Crenshaw's most important bit of advice, Guan said, was "just enjoy my game."
Guan was inspired to play golf by watching television coverage of 14-time major champion Tiger Woods in his prime. World No. 1 Woods has won four Masters titles, the first of which came in 1997 -- 18 months before Guan was born.
"When I was three or four years old, I was looking at him win the Masters and it was pretty exciting to watch him," Guan said.
"I played with him twice in the past couple years and he gives me many (pieces of) advice and I will say every time I play with him, I feel a lot better and give myself some confidence and it's very good.
"I think probably we will have a talk. The players here are all great players, so I'm looking forward to speak to any one of them."
Guan has a practice round on Tuesday with two-time Masters champion Tom Watson and will join Nick Faldo for Wednesday's Par-3 Contest, learning more of the secrets of how to handle Augusta's challenging holes and undulating greens.
"I would say I'm not long enough, but I think I'm still all right on this golf course," Guan said. "Not a really serious problem.
"The greens will probably go firmer and probably tougher. The slope is pretty big and you have to have a pretty good understanding of the green. I've been here a long time, so I think I've got a feeling for the green."
Guan has played Augusta National seven times already, testing his short game over the diabolical greens.
"I've still got to practice hard here because this green is pretty tough and it's not the same in China," Guan said. "I think I spent a little more time on it, but I think I can do it well.
"Every tournament is a challenge because every time you want to play well. You have to prepare for it and hope to do your best."
Guan said his favorite holes, and the most beautiful at Augusta National, are the par-3 12th and par-5 13th, the concluding holes of Amen Corner. He noted the par-4 first and 11th as difficult.
Guan hopes he can raise the profile of golf in his homeland as golf's Olympic debut approaches in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro.
"I think it's good for Chinese golf and that (gets) more people to know this game, to pick up this game," Guan said.
Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, also making his Masters debut, said he doubted he could have taken playing the Masters at Guan's age,
"I don't think I would have handled it," he said. "To play Augusta at 14, I think everybody is almost in shock. I hope for him he's going to enjoy this week. It's quite an achievement."
Italy's Matteo Manassero has been the youngest Masters starter from his 2010 appearance at age 16.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency