Guan survives after slow play penalty
Of the reasons to like golf, "I enjoy the fast pace" has never been on the list. All the more curious then what happened to 14-year-old Tianlang Guan on Friday at the Masters.
The young phenom, whose very existence at this tournament is enough to impress most people, was in danger of missing the cut at Augusta, before finally squeaking by, after a second-round 75 left him 4-over for the tournament.
But he would only be 3-over if not for a highly scrutinized slow play penalty assessed on the 17th hole during Friday's round. The infraction cost him a precious stroke that nearly sent him packing before the weekend.
The top 50 golfers, plus ties, plus anyone within 10 shots of the lead mad the cut. Guan was hovering in the 50's and nine or 10 shots off the lead for much of the day, with leader Jason Day threatening to extend the gap to 11.
In the end, Day finished 6-under, keeping Guan in the mix for the weekend play.
Based on the shots he took, Guan made a routine par on the 17th hole, but he was credited with a bogey and informed of the decision during play on that hole.
According to PGATour.com, it was the first time a slow play penalty had been assessed at a major since 2004, when Guan was five years old.
Twitter was ablaze with outrage following the incident:
You have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?? They penalize Guan one stroke for slow play on 17. Turtles everywhere in pro golf & they ping this kid?— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) April 12, 2013
Was standing on 18th tee when Ben Crenshaw approached man next to me and said there'd be an "international incident" b/c of Guan penalty.— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) April 12, 2013
Crenshaw, who played in Guan's group, had plenty more to say:
"He's 14 years old," Crenshaw said, according to the Augusta Chronicle. "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."
Guan's impressive opening round made him the darling of Thursday. By the end of the round, he was talking about winning four majors in one year, and we were wondering how he stacks up against other famous child sports prodigies.
His legacy will only grow after this incident. He handled himself with class in an interview with ESPN, saying he respected the decision and calling his time at the Masters "a wonderful experience."
Here's to two more days of it.