Altvater: Teenager Tianlang Guan Penalized for Slow Play at the MastersWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old eighth-grade student from China, earned his spot in the 2013 Masters by winning the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand. He became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the Masters.
He had a pretty good spring break by spending nearly two weeks at Augusta National Golf Club preparing for the tournament and making the cut at the Masters on Friday night.
He played practice rounds with Tiger Woods and Ben Crenshaw throughout the week receiving valuable advice and was able to learn from the best players in golf.
He begs the question — what were you doing when you were 14?
Playing with Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero, he posted an excellent one-over par 73 to put himself in position to make the cut. He made five bogeys and four birdies in his first round.
Bear in mind that Guan weighs in at 120 pounds and only hits the ball around 245 yards in the air with a driver. Augusta National is a big golf course at over 7,200 yards. Many of the holes require long drives into an upslope that do not allow for roll. Longer hitters can carry the hills and even get extra yards by hitting down-hill slopes in the fairway.
He continued his excellent play on Friday. It rained and the wind was a problem for golfers all day on Friday, making the scores considerably higher than on Thursday.
Guan did not make any birdies in his second round but only had made bogeys at Nos. 4 and 7 in his first nine holes.
The issue that caused a penalty being assessed on No. 17 began at No. 10. Crenshaw, Manassero and Guan had fallen two holes behind the group in front of them. They were informed by Masters rules official, John Paramor, that they were being placed on the clock for slow play.
Paramor, the chief referee for the European Tour, is an experienced rules official. He was well aware of the ramifications a penalty stroke would create and certainly did not want to be forced to assess the penalty.
He reminded the group that they were being timed again on the par-3, No. 12. Guan received his first excessive time on the next hole, No. 13, and was informed as such.
The problem came at No. 16, it is near the lowest part of Augusta National and swirling winds can create indecision in pulling the correct club.
Manassero hitting just ahead of Guan dunked his shot on No. 16 in the lake and made the club decision for the teenager even more difficult.
Guan took over five minutes to select a club and make the shot. This would be his second excessive time while being on the clock and must result in the penalty being assessed.
After making par on No. 17, he was informed of the assessment of the one stroke penalty for slow play.
It moved him to three-over for his round and four-over for the tournament. With Jason Day posting six-under par to lead the Masters, he allowed everyone within 10 shots of the lead to make the cut.
Even with the penalty stoke Guan’s total of four-over par made him the only amateur to make the cut in the 2013 Masters.
To put this into even more focus, defending champion Bubba Watson and former U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover are both in the group at four-over par after 36 holes.
For Guan, at 14, to shoot 73-75, even with a one-stroke penalty for slow play to make the cut is a very big accomplishment.
Asia is a huge and mainly untapped market for golf. There will be literally millions of Asian children watching the youthful Guan competing in the Masters and they will be encouraged to pick up a golf club for the first time.
Guan has handled this uncomfortable situation with grace and maturity. He has impressed golf fans everywhere for his calm and phenomenal game.
Are we witnessing the arrival of the next Tiger Woods?