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Golf: China's Guan tees off at PGA New Orleans event

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Chinese 14-year-old schoolboy Guan Tianlang, two weeks after an historic Masters debut as the youngest player at Augusta National, tees off again Thursday at a US PGA Tour event.

Guan will face a top tour lineup at the $6.6 million Zurich Classic of New Orleans, hoping to advance his career after making the cut at the Masters and taking the Silver Cup as the best amateur at the year's first major tournament.

"I spent a month here last year and it's a great place for me," Guan said. "I feel great to come back here this year, especially after The Masters. It feels pretty good right now and I hope to play good."

Guan has not changed his preparation from what he used at the Masters, where he toured the course with world number one Tiger Woods and other idols in practice rounds, gaining precious knowledge to help improve his game.

"It's just like I normally prepare for a tournament," he said. "This is a really important tournament too We've got 160-something players this time and it's not easy.

"I want to enjoy the week like in the Masters and hopefully make the cut. If not, it's still a great experience."

Guan, playing this week on a sponsor's exemption, said he might return home to China after this week's event and is uncertain if he will try and qualify for the US Open in June.

"I haven't decided yet," he said. "Everything on the schedule, we have to consider it."

After being penalised a stroke for slow play in the second round of the Masters, Guan said he knows he must be more decisive, especially in breezy conditions.

"My routine is not too bad," Guan said. "Probably have to make a decision quicker on windy days. I'll pay attention a little bit to it and probably speed up a little bit."

Guan said no course he has played in Asia matches the level of difficulty he found at Augusta National, particularly on its trademark undulating greens.

"The green is totally different, but I believe I've done a pretty good job at Augusta so far," Guan said.

"I think this is also a big course for me. I need to putt it good I think. And I should play really good woods to make the cut and go further, but I still need to play a really good couple of rounds."

American Jason Dufner is the defending champion and along with England's world number four Justin Rose is among only six of the world's 25 top-ranked players in the field this week.

Dufner edged reigning British Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa in a play-off last year for his first US PGA triumph after eight years on the tour and 164 US PGA starts.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130424/golf-chinas-guan-tees-at-pga-new-orleans-event