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April 12 2013

2:21 PM

14-year-old suffers slow-play penalty

Guan Tianlang might be in position to make the cut, even with a slow play penalty. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Editor's note: This story updated following completion of second round

By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur from China who is making history this week at the Masters, shot a 3-over 75 in Friday's second round that included a penalty stroke for slow play.

But while there were some anxious moments on Friday afternoon, the penalty ultimately didn't cost him a chance to make the cut. Guan has reached the weekend at Augusta National, the youngest player in modern-era PGA TOUR history to make a cut (click here for more).

Among the three strokes Guan dropped on Friday, one was for violating Rule 6-7 regarding pace of play. Guan was assessed the one-stroke penalty en route to what otherwise would have been a par at the 17th hole. His scorecard reflects a bogey, his third bogey on the day.

Fred Ridley, the Masters Competition Committee Chairman, released a statement explaining that Guan 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 hole, then was penalized after his second shot on the 17th hole "when he again exceeded the 40-second time limit by a considerable margin," according to Ridley.

After his round, Guan spent a considerable amount of time in the scoring booth. Interviewed afterward by ESPN, Guan said he agreed with the penalty. "I respect the decision they make," he said.

The last time a slow-play penalty was assessed at a major was the 2010 PGA Championship (Gregory Bourdy at Whistling Straits).

The last time a one-stroke penalty for slow play was assessed at a non-major PGA TOUR event was in 1995, when Glen Day suffered a one-stroke penalty in the third round of The Honda Classic.

"I'm sick. He's 14 years old. I'm so sorry this happened," Crenshaw said. "...This isn't going to wind up pretty."

"It's obviously a hard day for everybody," Manassero added, "but professional golf is the way it is, and now with this problem in general of slow play, rules officials are very strict."

Guan said that on the shot in which the penalty was assessed, he changed his mind on club selection and that it took him "just over 50 seconds" to take his shot. Asked if he was aware of the rule, Guan said, "I know the rules pretty good."

Crenshaw was asked whether the penalty was justified

"There's no question he played slowly at times," the two-time Masters champ said. "But he was working things out. ... The rule's 45 seconds, you know, and it's pretty difficult for somebody to do that in a tournament like this with conditions the way they are. It's going to happen, but I'm really sorry."

John Paramor, a Masters rules official who works on the European Tour, was the official assigned to the group and had the task of informing Guan on the course. They had a lengthy discussion on the course, as Guan asked to see Paramor's stop-watch.

"You give him the news, the best you can," Paramor told The Associated Press.

Guan said he changed his shot routine before the Masters but "today is pretty hard because if you're timed only 40 seconds, it's pretty hard because you need to make the decision. The wind switched a lot. But that's for everybody."

Guan, who speaks English, said there were no communication issues with his local caddie, Brian Tam.

When Guan finished, his best hope of making the cut was to be within 10 shots of the lead. He made the cut on the number and will play with Thorbjorn Olesen in Saturday's third round.

"We all hope he's going to make the cut, but this certainly will be a very valuable lesson," Manassero said in the afternoon before the cut was determined. "He will never forget it for sure, and he will learn from it."

Even had Guan not advanced to the weekend, his first two rounds at Augusta National were memorable. As the youngest player to participate in a modern-era major, he acquitted himself well, especially with his play Friday in tough scoring conditions.

Guan didn't post any birdies Friday, unlike the day before, when he had four. But he did have a stretch of nine consecutive pars, and he hit more fairways and greens than in the first round. Had it not been for the slow play penalty, he would have ended his round with 11 consecutive pars.

Guan said the penalty would not negatively impact his thoughts about his historic week at Augusta National. "Still a wonderful experience," he said.

Click here for Guan Tianlang's scorecard

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