Masters 2013: Guan Tianlang, 14, makes cut despite penalty

 

Teenager Guan Tianlang was penalised for slow play at Augusta, but his overall score of four over was still enough to see him become the youngest golfer to make the cut at a major.

Guan, 14, was given the one-stroke penalty after making par on the 17th, having earlier been warned for slow play during the Masters second round.

The Chinese player said: "I respect the decision. This is what they can do."

Masters analysis

"Tianlang Guan's punishment is very unusual. Outside of the majors on the PGA Tour, it was last seen in 1995 with Glen Day at the Honda Classic.

"In Europe, Ross Fisher was penalised in the 2012 Wales Open by referee John Paramor, the same man assigned to Guan's group, so maybe it is creeping back.

"However there is a very strong feeling among players here that the 14-year-old has been victimised. The counterpoint to that, and I have been contacted by an official making this point on Twitter, is that if the rule has been broken then the penalty must be applied."

Gregory Bourdy, at the 2010 US PGA, was the last to be penalised for slow play.

Guan carded 16 pars in total, although the one on 17 became a bogey after the European Tour's chief referee John Paramor alerted him of the penalty.

The teenager said he took extra time trying to gauge the tricky wind conditions.

"This still is a wonderful experience," he said. "I enjoyed this week so far and think I did a pretty good job."

Masters competition committee chairman Fred Ridley released a statement explaining that the Chinese amateur and playing partners Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero were deemed out of position on the 10th hole.

Guan began being timed on the 12th hole, received his first warning after his second shot on the 13th, then was penalised after his second shot on the 17th "when he again exceeded the 40-second time limit by a considerable margin".

Despite the setback, the teenager went on to par the last for a 75, to go with his first-round 73.

He is exactly 10 shots behind tournament leader Jason Day of Australia.

Two-time winner Crenshaw said: "This is not going to end pretty. I'm sick for him [Guan]. I feel terrible. He is 14 years old. I'm so sorry this has happened."

Guan Tianlang facts

  • Born: 25 October 1998
  • Lives: Guangzhou, China
  • Started playing golf aged 4
  • Eighth-grade student at Zhixin High School
  • Won the Asia-Pacific Amateur in November to qualify for the Masters
  • Youngest player to win on the China Amateur Futures Tour (aged 11 in 2010) and the China Amateur Tour (aged 12 in 2011)
  • Won the 2011 China Amateur Open and the 2011 Junior World Golf Championship

Manassero held the record of being the youngest to make a major cut when at the age of 16 he qualified for the last two days of the 2009 Open.

The Italian said Guan did take too long on his shots.

"I think it's the biggest thing he needs to be careful about, because I think he's ready," said Manassero, who is five over for the championship after shooting a 74.

"When the caddie pulls the club for him, I think he's ready. But most of the times that he takes a little too long he just asks questions that I think he knows, but just to be sure, just to be clear in his mind.

"We all feel sorry, but this is the way professional golf goes.

"This will end up being a great experience for him."

Fred Couples, the 1992 champion, was reluctant to criticise Guan's penalty saying the rules should be applied just as strictly to the teenager despite his tender years.

"The soft-coated answer would be I feel bad, but I also feel like they just don't go around handing out one-shot penalties here," he said.

"I don't even know of anyone who has ever got one.

"It feels hard to give a 14-year-old a penalty, but he's in the field. He beat a lot of guys yesterday, whatever the age he is."

Guan also became the youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour event, breaking the 56-year-old record held by Canadian Bob Panasik, who was 15 when he made it through to the last two rounds of the 1957 Canadian Open.