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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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.