The amazing story of the 14-year-old Chinese amateur Tianlang Guan came to a screeching halt on Friday. Not because of poor play, but because of an inopportune decision by Augusta National and the PGA.
After posting a second round score of 75, Guan was a shot inside of the cut line for the weekend. But after his round was finished, tournament officials informed Guan that he had been issued a one-stroke penalty for slow play at the 17th hole. That extra stroke means that Guan went from making the cut to being cut, and will have to watch the golf this weekend instead of playing. The Masters’ cut line is 10 strokes behind the leader. So, if the leader is -5, everyone from +5 and up will make the cut. Guan’s only hope for making the weekend is the leaders staying -5 and above.
According to ESPN, Guan was warned multiple times before the penalty was issued.
John Paramor, a long-time and respected European Tour rules official, was involved in the decision to penalize Guan. Parmour said he issued a warning on the 10th green, advised Gaun on the 12th tee, and then again at Nos. 13 and 17 before issuing the penalty after Guan played No. 17.
“I feel like that in those situations, any time they happen, that’s my job,” Parmour said. “That is what I do.”
The last slow-play penalty handed down in a PGA Tour event was assessed to Glen Day in 1995. Three years before the 14-year-old kid from China was even born. Even if this was a clear rules violation, the public backlash will be prevalent. But judging from Augusta National’s past, a little controversy doesn’t seem to shake them. It’s almost like they want it.
Guan played his round today with Matteo Manassero and Masters winner Ben Crenshaw, who spoke out about the decision.
“I think our group was warned once that we were out of position,” Crenshaw said. “This isn’t going to end up pretty, I don’t think. I’m sick.”
“He’s 14 years old. When you get the wind blowing out here, believe me you’re going to change your mind. I’m sorry, I’m a player. It’s not easy to get around this golf course.”
It is ridiculous that the Masters and/or the PGA – whoever made the ultimate decision – made an example out of Tianlang Guan when there are notable slowpokes on the PGA Tour. Keegan Bradley, Kevin Na, Jim Furyk haven’t received slow-play warnings. Those guys are human rain-delays.
Does this set a precedent that the PGA can’t follow? What if Tiger Woods took a long time to hit his tee shot? I doubt that the same rule would be enforced.