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 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.
He continued: “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.”
Guan will join Nick Faldo for today’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,” he added.
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.”
Tips from Tiger
On Monday, Guan had an afternoon back-nine Augusta National practice round with Tiger Woods — the man who inspired him to start golfing — and Dustin Johnson.
“He hits it good,” Woods said. “I showed him a few of the pins, helped him a little bit. The kid is 14. He’s good. We had a good time.”
After playing fabled Amen Corner — his favorite holes on the course — with the 14-time major champion he dreams of emulating, Guan spent another half hour on the putting green with Woods learning some Masters secrets.
They skipped balls together across the surface of the water at the par-3 16th hole and finished as the shadows began to fall across the course.