China’s Tianlang Guan, 14, became the youngest player to ever make a cut at a major tourney Friday.
AUGUSTA — China’s teenage golf sensation Tianling Guan was penalized for slow play at the Masters on Friday, briefly jeopardizing his chances of becoming the youngest player ever to make the cut at a major championship.
A few hours later, he was able to breathe easier after finding out his two-round total of 4-over was good enough to make the weekend — and professional golf history.
Officials imposed a rare one-stroke penalty on the 14-year-old after he was warned for taking too much time during his second round at Augusta National.
With the addition of the penalty, Guan completed a second round of three-over-par 75 for a 36-hole total of four-over, leaving him right on the cusp of the projected cut.
“I think my routine is pretty good, it was just the wind switching,” Guan said. “I respect their decision. It’s still been a wonderful experience for me. I think I did a pretty good job.”
Now he’ll get a chance to do more with the controversy in his rearview mirror.
Slow play has been a contentious issue in golf for years but players are rarely penalized. The last time it happened at a major was in 2010 when Gregory Bourdy was docked a stroke at the PGA Championship, according to the PGA Tour.
“There’s no question he played slowly at times, but he was working things out,” veteran Ben Crenshaw, one of Guan’s playing partners, said.
Guan’s other playing partner, Italian Matteo Manassero, said the young Chinese did play slowly, but he was not bothered by it.
“From my point of view, I didn’t get so much affected by it because I was hitting last, so I was taking my time and it didn’t feel too slow to me,” Manassero said. “But the times are saying that it was sometimes too slow.”
Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters competition committee, issued a statement saying the group was deemed to be out of position on the 10th hole.
“Tianlang Guan was assessed a one-shot penalty for violation of Rule 6-7 of the Rules of Golf and the Tournament’s Pace of Play Policy. His group, which included Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero, was deemed out of position on No. 10. Guan began being timed on Hole 12 and received his first warning on Hole 13 after his second shot,” Ridley said in a statement. “In keeping with the applicable rules, he was penalized following his 2nd shot on the 17th hole when he again exceeded the 40 second time limit by a considerable margin.”
Crenshaw said the ruling was a joke.
“This isn’t going to end up pretty, I don’t think,” Crenshaw said. “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. I’m sorry, I’m a player. It is not easy to get around this golf course the way it’s set up for two days.”
The old record for the youngest player to make a majors cut was held by — ironically — Manassero, who was just 16 when he made it to the final two rounds at the 2009 British Open.