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Chinese golfer Guan Tianlang, 14 year old, walks on the 11th during the second round of the Australian Open golf tournament in Sydney December 7, 2012. Few issues in the world of golf arouse more excitement than the potential of the Chinese market and schoolboy Guan is learning fast that every promising talent from the country is going to be subject to intense scrutiny. [Photo/Agencies]
SYDNEY - Few issues in the world of golf arouse more excitement than the potential of the Chinese market and schoolboy Guan Tianlang is learning fast that every promising talent from the country is going to be subject to intense scrutiny.
The 14-year-old showed that he might just have the temperament to deal with that expectation when he posted a round of two-under par 70 at the Australian Open on Friday and earned a practice date with Tom Watson at next year's US Masters.
Guan ensured he would become the youngest player ever to compete at Augusta by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last month and many predict it will not be his last visit to a major.
"He's the best kid I've seen anywhere ... I think he'll be the first Chinese major winner," Danny Webb, who has been coaching Guan since he was six, told Reuters by telephone from Shenzhen.
"He makes adjustments to pressure. You don't see very often where he's affected by pressure. And when he is, he adjusts very quickly.
"Most golfers don't have that kind of confidence until they're 30. He's unique this way."
It is a common refrain from those who surround Guan and, even if he missed the cut in Sydney, he impressed with the way he rebounded from the disappointment of a first round 82 in high winds at The Lakes.
"I felt very comfortable today, I got some good shots and I made more birdies," Guan told Reuters in an interview after he had enjoyed a post-round lunch.
"Yesterday was pretty windy and there were more people watching me than normal, so I got a little bit nervous at the start. I played my own game on the back nine and got better.
"Today I got even better. There were even more people today but I'm getting used to it."
Guan has been engrossed in the sport since he was four and queued up to get Watson's autograph on his cap before signing a few of his own and then chatting with the eight-times major champion.
"He said I was doing pretty well and he said I am still a kid," Guan recalled, running his hand through his cropped hair.
"I asked him if he was going to the Masters and he said 'yes' and then he said 'let's play a practice round on Tuesday afternoon'.
"I just want to do my best at Augusta, it will be a great experience for me. I think I will have fun there."