Guan the man at Augusta

4/9/2013 3:49:12 PM
Guan Tianlang putts as Tiger Woods looks on   (Getty Images)
Guan Tianlang putts as Tiger Woods looks on (Getty Images)

Playing alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods at the famous Augusta National course is only an option on computer games for most 14 year olds, yet that is not the case for China's child prodigy Guan Tianlang.

Indeed, as if appearing on The European Tour at the age of 13 was not enough, Guan will now test himself in a Major Championship.

Guan has long been touted as a future star and showed he was already starting to fulfil his vast potential by appearing in the Volvo China Open last year at the tender age of 13 years and 173 days.

It perhaps underlines the strength of Chinese golf at youth level that his record will be broken at this year's event, which is set to feature 12 year old Ye Wocheng.

However, Ye will have to go some way to match his compatriot's latest achievement given Guan will this week ply his trade in the Masters Tournament having won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

That record-breaking feat will surely take some surpassing given he will become the youngest Masters competitor and second youngest in all Major Championships; Guan will be 14 years and 168 days when he tees up on Thursday, 21 days older than Young Tom Morris was at the 1865 Open Championship.

"I'm really excited in the morning when I come out onto the course and there are so many people here already and I'm really looking forward to the tournament," said Guan.

"I'm not going to push myself too hard and I'm going to enjoy my game. Hopefully I can play well."

Guan's preparations have been somewhat different to those of other competitors, for he has to mix academic studies with practice rounds.

"I take my homework with me here and I will do pretty much all of it, just not too much," he admitted.

Yet, even with such a busy schedule, he has still utilised the opportunity to play with some illustrious names.

Having already accompanied Ben Crenshaw around the iconic layout, he will do likewise with Tom Watson before taking on the traditional par three contest tomorrow alongside Nick Faldo.

"The general manager of my home course is friends with Ben (Crenshaw) and he told him I wanted to play with him," enthused Guan. "He told me a lot and we really enjoyed it on the golf course."

As well as playing alongside that trio, who have collected the Green Jacket seven times between them, he also took on Augusta's back nine with childhood hero Woods today.

Remarkably, Guan was not born when the World Number One won the first of his 14 Majors in the 1997 edition of this event, yet has tested himself against him a couple of times.

Speaking prior to playing alongside Woods at Augusta, he added: "When I was three or four years old I was looking at him (Woods) winning the Masters and it's pretty exciting to watch him.

"I played with him twice in the past couple of years and he gave me a lot of advice. Every time I play with him I feel a lot better and give myself some confidence."