China’s Guan Tianlang is about to become the youngest player in Masters history
A QUALIFIED SUCCESS
I remember playing in the final round [of the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which Tianlang won by a stroke to qualify for the Masters]. On the 18th hole, I was in the lead by one. It's a long par 4. My second stroke missed the green, and I realized I was so close to the Masters. I told myself, "Calm down and finish this hole safe and steady." I had a great up-and-down. I was nervous over the [par] putt, but I made it. I was in the Masters!
VIEW TO A THRILL
Do I watch the Masters? Absolutely! I've been watching since I was five. Some years I'd watch it again and again, like when Tiger Woods made that dramatic birdie chip on the 16th green at the 2005 Masters, which impressed me deeply. I've always wanted to stand on the first tee.
I would like to play the Masters with Tom Watson. I met him in Sydney, and he invited me to play the practice round together on Tuesday [of Masters week]. He is so kind and gentle. It will be my honor to play with such a legend, who would also have a lot to teach me about the course.
When I was 12, I played with Tiger Woods. He is my idol. He was very nice and gave me some tips, such as how to play a draw. That is a very good shot to play at Augusta. I also admire [Chinese professional golfers] Liang Wen-Chong and Zhang Lian-Wei. They gave me advice on course management and how to play in the wind. Liang taught me about setting a good example and the need to take more social responsibility. He said, "A good golfer is also a gentleman and a good man."
THE COOLEST CUT
Can I make the cut? I would like to make the cut, sure, but I'm not worried about things like that. Since it's my first Masters, my only goals are to enjoy it and show my best to everyone.
(YOUNG) MAN OF THE PEOPLE
My life has been changed—more media interviews, more photo shoots. And I received many professional tournament invitations. My friends in China are all proud of me. The honor and credit is not for me personally but for golf in China. Pressure? I'm just glad I have a chance to represent China in the greatest event in the world. It's a great milestone for my country.
It's too early to think about winning. But if I do one day win the Masters, my first choice for the Champions Dinner? Definitely Chinese food.