AUGUSTA, Ga. — Sorry, Lil Wayne, but I’m not with you on Tianlang Guan.
The hip-hop artist chimed in Friday with this tweet: “Guan shouldn’t have the penalty. Shame on the Masters”
And in a sign that golf rules can make strange bedfellows, several PGA Tour players tweeted in agreement.
Jamie Lovemark: “What a terrible decision to penalize Guan. Yeah, maybe he was playing slowly but the kid’s trying to make history, just look the other way.”
Joe Ogilvy — whose Twitter avatar has a red slash through the words SLOW PLAY — offered: “Stupefied b/c penalty happened w/1 hole to go, swirling winds, and let’s face it: he is a 14 year old amateur from China chasing history.”
Yes, the “C’mon, he’s just a kid” defense.
Guan, who ended up making the cut on the number, was deemed out of position on No. 10. He received his first warning on No. 13. He took a while to putt on No. 16 — his group fell nearly two holes behind — and went back to the yardage book before hitting his approach on No. 17.
The official Masters statement said Guan “again exceeded” the 40-second limit players have to hit their ball “by a considerable margin” on No. 17.
Veteran European Tour official John Paramor assessed the penalty, telling Yahoo Sports: “He had warnings. Everything needs to be done to (preserve fast play). I made that clear on the walk to the 17th tee.”
Guan accepted the penalty, saying, “I respect the decision.”
One-shot penalties for slow play are as common as Toyotas in the players’ courtesy-car lots. The last time a player got penalized in a major was Steve Lowery in the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
Largely for that reason, many teed off on Paramor and Augusta National, labeling them as hypocrites for singling out a 14-year-old on an extremely windy day. Playing partners Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero were not penalized.
I was standing by the 18th tee when Crenshaw approached a friend and warned that “an international incident” was on the horizon.
Indeed, Guan might have 1.34 billion people — the population of China — on his side.
Crenshaw said later: “This isn’t gonna end up pretty, I don’t think. I’m sick. I’m sick for him. He’s 14 years old. When you get the wind blowing out here, believe me, you’re going to change your mind a lot.”
Manassero sympathized but said: “With this problem of slow play, rules officials are very strict. ... He had been timed and he was off time, so he was slow, yeah. ... This will be a very valuable lesson.”
Going macro for a second here, slow play is awful for the game. It’s one reason more courses close than open and participation among juniors keeps falling.
Some rounds at the 2009 Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Links took six hours. Caddies would align players on every shot, and club selection lasted longer than “Lincoln.”
I remember thinking: Kids, please do not copy this.
A buddy and I once played 16 holes in 90 minutes. (We caught up to a group on No. 17.) When my brother-in-law takes too many practice swings, I call him “Sergio.”
Guan made a sensational up-and-down from the front-left bunker on No. 18 to shoot a second-round 75. His 4-over total sneaked in under the cut line, thanks to the 10-shot rule.
Guan will play the weekend and, as an amateur, won’t lose any prize money. All good.
©2013 Chicago Tribune
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