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Teen wonder calm amid the stars

Date

Liam Fitzgibbon

Promise … Guan Tianlang.

Promise … Guan Tianlang. Photo: Reuters

HE IS considered the next big thing in world golf, so it's unsurprising 14-year-old Guan Tianlang is showing composure beyond his years heading into this week's Australian Open.

Undaunted by the prospect of lining up against some of the sport's biggest names at The Lakes in Sydney, the Chinese amateur sensation plans to use the experience as vital preparation for a record-breaking appearance at the US Masters in April.

Guan will become the youngster golfer to compete in the Masters next year after winning last month's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

That will surely be a much more daunting experience than facing the likes of Adam Scott, Tom Watson and Justin Rose this week, but Guan is keen to soak up as much professional tournament experience as he can.

''I think [it will be good preparation for the Masters] because it's a pretty big tournament,'' Guan said as he tested The Lakes course for the first time under overcast skies on Monday.

''It's a good experience and I'm looking forward to it. To play with some of the world's greatest players, I want to enjoy everything about it - the course and all the stuff they do. Just get to know all about it.''

Guan's lack of pre-tournament jitters is understandable given he's no stranger to professional tournaments. He became the youngest player to compete at a European Tour event at the China Open earlier this year.

He welcomed the possibility of playing alongside American great Watson in Sydney, with speculation they could be grouped together for Thursday's opening round.

Guan said he had no plans to put away his long putter in Sydney this week, despite a proposed ban on the anchored stroke used for belly putters such as his.

The rule may be implemented in 2016, but Guan said he was in no rush to change back to the shorter club, with which he also feels comfortable.

''I think for myself, I don't think it's a big problem,'' Guan said.

Tournament director Trevor Herden believed in Guan the event had secured one of the most exciting golfers in the world.

''To me he's looked so composed for a young man and it will be interesting to see how he goes about his business,'' Herden said.

AAP

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