Guan gets slow-play penalty, makes Masters cut

By Randall MellApril 13, 2013, 1:16 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. –Tianlang Guan made twice as much history as he wanted Friday at the Masters.

In a dizzying day of wonder and confusion, the 14-year-old phenom from China became the youngest player to make the cut in a major championship. He also became the first player known to be assessed a penalty for slow play in 77 years of the Masters.

The unprecedented penalty assessed at the 17th hole loomed like a foul odor over the afternoon’s thickening plot line.

The wrenching turn threatened to ruin a marvelous storyline with a controversial decision that couldn’t possibly have landed well back in China, where sports fans in the nation of 1.3 billion people are caught up in Guan’s magical run.

For a time after signing his scorecard, Guan looked as if he was going to miss the cut by a phantom stroke, a shot he never hit.

If golf is capable of an international incident, this seemed like it.


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Guan was stopped before reaching the 17th green and informed by rules official John Paramor that he was being assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play.

Guan was grinding hard on the back nine to make the cut. Stepping to the 17th tee, he was sitting right on the cut line for players within 10 shots of the lead. The penalty threatened to knock him out of the tournament. It made him sweat out an afternoon of wondering whether Tiger Woods, Jason Day or somebody else would do the duty. 

In the end, after Woods stumbled coming home, after Day missed a 10-foot birdie chance at the 17th hole, Guan survived, barely.

Though the Masters has a cut to the low 50 scores and ties, Guan made the cut despite finishing tied for 55th. He made the cut by virtue of being within 10 shots of the leader.

“This isn’t going to end up pretty,” Ben Crenshaw, one of Guan’s playing competitors, said afterward. “I’m sick. I’m sick for him.”

Crenshaw didn’t sound like he agreed with the penalty, given the winds and difficulty of the course in the second round.

“I’m sorry, I’m a player, but it’s not easy to get around this golf course,” Crenshaw said.

Matteo Manassero also played alongside Guan, but he wasn’t as sympathetic. He said Guan did play slowly and needs to work on picking up his pace of play.

“Sometimes, most of the times, he takes a little too long,” Manassero said.

Manassero said Guan tended to interact a lot with his caddie, asking a lot of questions, wanting more information.

Carl Jackson, Crenshaw’s caddie, was asked if Guan plays too slowly.

“To be honest, yes,” Jackson said. “In my opinion, they could have burned him yesterday.”

Jackson, however, was caught up in Guan’s magical run.

“You can’t help but like him,” he said.

Guan accepted the penalty after a lengthy stay in scoring pleading his case.

“I respect the decision,” he said after signing a scorecard for a 75 that included the penalty-incurred bogey at the 17th.

Paramor, a European Tour official who works the Masters, explained the penalty to Guan before he stepped on to the 17th green, where Guan would two-putt for par. It wasn’t Paramor’s first involvement in a slow-play controversy. Even Tiger Woods gave Paramor some grief for putting Padraig Harrington on the clock in his duel with Woods at the WGC-Bridgestone four years ago.

Paramor, however, wasn’t alone making the decision to penalize Guan. Fred Ridley, the Masters competition committee chairman, was aware of the slow-play issue with Guan. He was standing behind the 17th green when Paramor assessed the penalty.

Afterward, Paramor said that he approached Guan four times about slow play before handing out the penalty.

At the 10th hole, Paramor said he informed Guan’s group they were out of position. At the 12th tee, he informed Guan he was being timed. After Guan hit his second shot at the 13th hole, Paramor issued Guan his first warning for a bad time. At the 17th tee, he spoke yet again to Guan.

According to Masters pace-of-play policy, while being timed, Guan had 40 seconds to hit a shot once it was his turn to play. A second bad time results in a one-shot penalty.

After hitting his drive in the right rough at No. 17, Guan took a considerable amount of time to play his second shot. He wandered out into the fairway to survey the hole. He conferred with his caddie.

“He again exceeded the 40-second time limit by a considerable margin,” Ridley said in a statement.

That resulted in the one-shot penalty.

Guan doesn't think he is that slow.

“I think my routine is good,” Guan said. “The only problem is I have to make the decision.” 

There is little doubt Guan was in violation of the Masters’ slow-play policy. The larger questions surround the timing of the decision to penalize him. Guan is the first player in Masters history to be hit with the slow-play penalty, but is he really the first player to be in violation of the policy? Was it worth jeopardizing his wonderful story, as a 14-year-old from China, a qualifier who earned his way here as the winner of the Masters’ own Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship?

Brandt Snedeker, who played in the afternoon wave, wondered the same thing.

“That’s unfortunate,” Snedeker said of the penalty. “I wish they would have made an example out of somebody else except for a 14-year-old kid … made an example out of me or somebody else, but a kid just trying to make a cut in his first Masters? I understand slow play is a problem, and it’s just a tough situation. I feel badly for the kid.”

Paramor acknowledged feeling badly assessing a penalty.

“I feel like that every time,” Paramor said.

The Masters’ pace-of-play policy is similar to the PGA Tour’s, but it is not the same.

The Masters sets 4 hours and 38 minutes as the expected 18-hole pace for a threesome.

After being informed that a group is out of position, the players are timed. A player gets 40 seconds to play once it is his turn. After a second warning for slow play, a penalty is assessed. The PGA Tour allows 60 seconds for players in certain circumstances. They’re allowed 60 seconds if they are the first to play into a par 3, the first to hit their second shot into a par 4, the first to hit their third shot into a par 5 and the first to putt.

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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

THE MAJORS

Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


PHOTO GALLERIES

Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm