Nicklaus critical of Guan slow play penalty


With Guan Tianlang once again grabbing headlines this week, having accepted a sponsor exemption to play in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, one of the game's icons did not hold back when discussing the slow-play penalty that the teen received at the Masters.

'He's in the eighth grade! The eighth grade and he's playing in the Masters! And he gets a penalty?' said Jack Nicklaus, speaking passionately during a luncheon Wednesday according to an AP report. 'Can you imagine giving a 14-year-old kid a penalty for slow play?'

During the second round at Augusta National, Guan was assessed a one-shot penalty for slow play, only the fourth such penalty handed out in the last 16 years at a major. While at the time the infraction appeared likely to cost Guan a spot on the weekend, the teen was able to make the cut on the number, ultimately finishing 58th.

Nicklaus asserted that slow play on the PGA Tour is not exactly confined to Guan's single case earlier this month.

'There's hundreds of guys who are much slower probably than (he was) and they figure out a way to get away with it,' Nicklaus added.

Speaking on-site at the Zurich Classic, where he will tee it up in the same field as Guan for the second time this month, former Masters champion Bubba Watson also expressed sympathy for the teen's situation while at the same time calling for stricter pace of play enforcement.

'I think that – not just the Masters – I think there's times on the PGA Tour where it should have happened before. I think we should always give strokes (for slow play),' explained Watson, who also won at TPC Louisiana in 2011. 'It's an unfortunate situation because of who (Guan) it was. But again, he's not a pro yet, but later in life, if he becomes a pro, he's going to know the consequences.'