By Larry Fine
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - China's Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old who on Thursday will become the youngest player ever to compete in the Masters, convinced his father at an early age that he was something special.
Guan Hanwen's son showed an interest at age three or four in watching him play, and it was not long before the elder Guan realized he was not equipped to help the boy.
"Seven years old," Guan, who played to as low as a seven handicap, told Reuters through an interpreter on Tuesday when asked how old his son was when he first beat him at golf.
"I found him a coach, but the putting and the short game, he mainly taught himself. He loved the game so much, he taught himself ... he watched TV and learned by himself."
Asia-Pacific amateur champion Guan's fast-track education at Augusta National was advanced on Tuesday in a practice round with two-times Masters champion Tom Watson.
Watson came over to Guan's parents following the round.
"I enjoyed playing with Guan," he told them after shaking hands and posing for pictures with them. "Guan has good tempo, his rhythm is very good.
"Once he grows a little bit, he will be able to get the club faster. He will use a different (swing) plane when he gets taller, stronger." Watson said, demonstrating a more vertical plane, and assured them he thinks he is getting good coaching.
Guan got another taste of the Masters experience when he spent Monday night in the Crow's Nest, a cramped space atop the clubhouse under a pitched roof where amateurs in the field are invited to bunk.
His father said he checked out the accommodations, where up to five amateurs room together in a dormitory style set-up.
"It was very good," he said. "It's a bit confined but the main thing is it's history. My son enjoyed it very much. The top amateurs together. It's very nice."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)