By Beth Ann Baldry, Golfweek
AUGUSTA, Ga. — The scene was incredible. As
Tianlang Guan approached the
17th green, European Tour rules official John
Paramor walked up to the eighth-
grader and showed him his stopwatch. Fred
Ridley, chairman of the competition
committee, sat in a nearby cart with a cell
phone up to his ear.
Could it be? Did the greencoats of Augusta
National really just hand out a slow-
play penalty to Boy Wonder? Guan two-putted
for what would have been a par.
He walked to the back of the green, where he
rocked back and forth on his
heels. He then shook his head one time in
disbelief. That’s about the extent of
the physical reaction made by Guan, who with
the one-shot penalty made 5 on
the hole and slipped to 4 over for the
Guan hung back on the green to inform Ben
Crenshaw of the situation, and then
walked up to the 18th tee and split the
fairway. After his approach found a
greenside bunker, he hit the flagstick and then
rolled in a 5-foot par putt to
finish at 4 over par for two rounds at the 77th
He hovered at the cutline and had to wait
several hours to find out if he’d be
playing on the weekend. Mercifully, Guan got
in on the number. No one wanted
to see the youngster miss weekend play
because of a slow-play penalty, even if
it was deserved.
“I’m sick,” said Crenshaw after the round. “I’m
sick for him.”
For Guan to save par on the 18th hole and
give himself hope to make the cut
was an incredible display of focus for any
player, let alone a 14-year-old
representing a country of more than 1.3 billion
on golf’s grandest stage. The
incident will likely only heighten Guan’s fame
in Asia, where there’s a pipeline of
talent that’s bursting at the seams.
“That shows you the fight in the brother,” said
Carl Jackson, Crenshaw’s
longtime Augusta caddie.
Jackson, working his 52nd Masters, also said
rules officials could’ve “burned him
Anyone who watched Guan play the last 36
holes can say with certainty that he’s
on the slower side of slow. When it was
Guan’s turn to hit on the par-3 12th, he
stood off the side of the tee for so long that
members of the gallery questioned
whether or not anyone in the 9:06 a.m. group
knew whose turn it was to hit.
Guan never seemed to be off in la-la-land,
staring at the clouds or smelling the
azaleas. He was dialed into his round at all
times. Here was an incredibly
imaginative 14-year-old kid, playing in his
first Masters, taking his time on
every shot. He pulled off one brilliant save
after another and left nothing to
Matteo Manassero, the 19-year-old Italian who
played alongside Crenshaw and
Guan, said pace of play is Guan’s biggest
concern. The problem, Manassero
said, is that Guan asks too many questions
before he pulls the trigger. Not
because he doesn’t know the answers, but just
to be clear in his mind.
“We all feel sorry,” Manassero said. “But this
is the way professional golf goes.
. . . This will end up being a great experience
Guan spoke with ESPN after his round and
said that he respected the decision of
the rules officials. He said he had changed his
routine before coming to the
Masters, but found it difficult to make a
decision in the allotted 40 seconds
because of shifting winds.
“I think my routine is good,” he said. “The
only problem is I have to make the
Take for example the par-4 ninth. After Guan
hit his tee shot right under a large
Georgia pine, he left his approach shot short
of the green. Guan did as most
pros would, walking up to the green to assess
the back-left hole location. Back
at his bag, Guan, who was next to hit, took a
few practice swings without a
club, getting a feel for the shot. He then
pulled a club and asked his caddie to
clean it off. Guan then took a few swipes at
the ground. He gave the club back
to his caddie for a second cleaning. Only then
did he hit a beautiful pitch shot
that chased up the hill and onto the back
fringe before trickling back down
toward the flag, coming to rest within 3 feet
of the hole. He walked away with a
par and the admiration of fans, but it was a
foreshadow of things to come.
On the par-4 10th hole, Guan’s group was
deemed out of position. Guan was
timed for the first time on the 12th hole and
received his first warning after
hitting his second shot on the par-5 13th.
There was a conversation with
Paramor walking to the 17th tee after Guan
took lengthy time on the 16th green
over a putt Crenshaw called “diabolical.” The
penalty was assessed in the 17th
fairway after his second shot exceeded the
40-second limit “by a considerable
margin,” according to a statement released by
Ridley, the Competition
Crenshaw, the two-time Masters champion
who pointed out that they now play
in threesomes rather than twosomes at
Augusta for the first two rounds, was
upset to see a young player he gave such high
praise be pricked by something
so rare – and seemingly arbitrary in
professional golf – as a slow-play penalty
on a day that brought pouring rain, strong
winds and a sudden burst of blue sky.
An Augusta National official, when asked if the
Masters had ever penalized a
player for slow play, responded, “None that
we are aware of.”
Did Paramor feel like he had no choice?
"I feel that every time I go out," he said.
"That’s my job. It’s what I do."
As Crenshaw said, this part wasn’t pretty.
“He's 14, on a world stage, a beautiful player
and he's played some beautiful
golf,” said Crenshaw. “I told him I'm so
OTHER AMATEURS MISS THE CUT
Guan was the only amateur to make the cut at
Cal's Michael Weaver shot rounds of 78-74 and
missed the mark by four shots.
He gained entry to The Masters with a runner-
up finish at the U.S. Amateur.
T.J. Vogel, the reigning U.S. Public Links
champion, was also four shots out
after rounds of 77-75.
Nathan Smith, in his third Masters start after
his record fourth U.S. Mid-Am
championship, missed the cut after rounds of
Smith was two shots better than reigning U.S.
Amateur winner Steven Fox, who
struggled Friday with an 81 after a first-round
Alan Dunbar, who earned his Masters berth by
winning the 2012 British
Amateur, shot rounds of 83-77.