The last thing anyone wanted to see on Friday is 14 year old Tianlang Guan being assessed a one shot penalty for slow play. His is a wonderful story, shooting rounds of 73 and 74 as the youngest major participant in golf history. But today's 74 turned into a 75 after being assessed a penalty for slow play on the 17th hole.
Before passing judgment on the ruling let's examine Augusta National's reasoning. Here's their statement: "Guan began being timed on Hole 12 and received his first warning on Hole 13 after his second shot. 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."
Without that explanation I could understand the place for criticism. Aren't there others that compromise that rule? Are other players being scrutinized like Guan was?
Maybe, maybe not. But why would the most prestigious club in the world take the time to change the qualifications for making the field, by including the Asian Pacific Amateur Champion (Lang), only to try and embarrass him by penalizing him in front of the entire world?
In other words this is not something the club would ever want to do, but after giving Guan a warning and monitoring his pace of play for six holes they felt inclined to enforce the rule. And to Guan's credit he took responsibility for it saying "the changes in wind made me slow down and I might have taken too long."
Hopefully this isn't something that gets in the way of a remarkable accomplishment. Guan's poise in the spotlight should be the top story. But he deserved the penalty, and the way he handled it is even further reason to pull for him this weekend.
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