Chinese 14-year-old makes Masters cut
AUGUSTA, Ga. — A weekend at the Masters was worth the wait for Guan Tianlang.
The 14-year-old from China became the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters on Friday afternoon, some six hours after a one-stroke penalty for slow play left him on the bubble.
“I made it,” he said afterward on Weibo, China's version of Twitter. “I hope I can make more miracles, more dreams come true. I want to thank my parents and everyone who cared, supported and helped me.”
Guan had to wait until the last group finished to know if he was in or out at Augusta National. He finished at 3-over 75 for the round, giving him a 4-over 148 total. The top 50 players made the cut as well as those within 10 strokes of the lead. Jason Day got to 6 under with two holes still to play, but he missed a birdie putt by inches on 17 and was in the sand off the tee on 18.
For all the talk of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, Guan added a buzz to the Masters. An eighth-grader who arrived at Augusta National with textbooks stuffed in his bag, he is the youngest player ever at the Masters and the youngest at any major in 148 years.
He was assessed the penalty after his second shot at the 17th hole, turning what would have been a par into a bogey.
Slow play is a frequent complaint among golfers, particularly at major events, but it's rarely enforced. Guan is believed to be the first player penalized for slow play at the Masters. The last player to be penalized at a major was Gregory Bourdy in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
“A rule is a rule,” Guan's father, Han Wen, said after his son was penalized. “It's OK.”
Guan said he's never had issues with slow play before, and he wasn't warned Thursday. But conditions at Augusta National are notoriously tricky in perfect weather, and the swirling, gusty winds blowing Friday only made them more difficult.
“I respect the decision they make,” Guan said. “They should do it because it's fair to everybody.”
Guan repeatedly sought the advice of his caddie, Brian Tam, who is a regular caddie at the course. The teenager tossed blades of grass into the air before many of his shots to test the wind. He was often indecisive about his clubs, pulling one, taking a few practice swings and then asking for another one.
Guan and his playing partners, Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero, never held up the group behind them. But Fred Ridley, the competition committee chairman at Augusta National, said they were first warned for being out of position at No. 10.
The Masters follows the Rules of Golf, written by the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient. Golfers are required to keep up “with any pace of play guidelines that the committee may establish.” For a threesome at Augusta National, those guidelines set a target of 4 hours, 38 minutes to play 18 holes.