Tiger Woods took some time to play a few practice holes with 14-year-old Chinese golfer Guan Tianlang.
Tiger Woods shares some practice time with China's Guan Tianlang
AUGUSTA, Georgia // Tiger Woods was practicing at the Masters driving range when up walked the 14-year-old Chinese prodigy Guan Tianlang, greeting the player who had inspired him to take up the sport.
A few minutes later, Woods had invited Guan along for a Tuesday afternoonon the back-nine for a round of practice at Augusta National with Dustin Johnson, giving Guan the chance to play the fabled Amen Corner - his favourite holes on the course - with the 14-time major champion he dreams of emulating.
"Every time I play with him, I feel a lot better and give myself some confidence and it's very good," Guan said.
Much the way Woods has set a goal of surpassing the 18 career major titles of his boyhood hero Jack Nicklaus, Guan dreams of a calendar-year Grand Slam, a feat not even Woods has managed even though he has won four majors in a row.
Guan had played alongside Woods in a pro-am event before, but a practice round session with the world No 1 was a surprise that came after Guan's morning practice round with the two-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw.
"He told me a lot," Guan said. "We really enjoyed it on the golf course."
Guan and Woods are the week's scene stealers, the Chinese teen because he will replace Italy's Matteo Manassero as the youngest player in Masters history. Manassero was 16 when he played in 2010.
Woods is a favourite to capture a fifth green jacket this week after winning this year at Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill to vault past Rory McIlroy into the top ranking for the first time since October of 2010.
"He's hitting it nicely," Steve Stricker said a day after a practice round with Woods, who has not won a major since 2008. "Looks like he's got a ton of confidence in that putter, too, which you need to go around here.
"It looks like he's comfortable in his game and I expect him to be in the mix come Sunday, for sure."
Tournament 77th Masters
Where Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia
Length 7,435 yards
Par 36-36 - 72
Cut Top 44 and ties, and players 10 shots off the lead
Purse TBD. US$8 million (Dh29.4m) in 2012
Past 10 champions
Bubba Watson, USA 2012
Charl Schwartzel, RSA 2011
Phil Mickelson, USA 2010
Angel Cabrera, ARG 2009
Trevor Immelman, RSA 2008
Zach Johnson, USA 2007
Phil Mickelson, USA 2006 Tiger Woods, USA 2005
Phil Mickelson, USA 2004
Mike Weir, CAN 2003
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