As play begins Friday morning at the 2013 Masters, nearly every player in the 93-man field thinks he has a shot at making the cut and playing the weekend at Augusta National. On Wednesday, ANGC Chairman Billy Payne announced new rules for the cut, effective immediately.
In 2013, the top 50 and ties, as well as anyone within ten shots of the lead, will make the cut. That's an increase from the top 44 and ties, and a swift and significant movement for an organization typically beholden to tradition. Here's Payne on the new rules in effect for this year's tournament (via ASAPSports):
There is another important and I think positive new development beginning immediately and affecting this year's Tournament. At the conclusion of the first two rounds, we will be increasing our cut to 50 players and ties, plus those within ten strokes of the leader. As you may know, our cut was implemented in 1957, taking the top 40 players and ties. In 1962, it was increased to 44, but now, more than 50 years later, we believe offering more playing opportunities for the participants over the weekend is a positive for everyone involved.
With more than a third of the field in the red and many more hovering around even-par, most players are concerned with setting up for contention on the weekend as opposed to playing their way over the cut line.
But for one player, simply making the cut will be a historic achievement. Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur stole the show on Thursday afternoon, draining a birdie putt on No. 18 to walk off with a one-over 73. It was an astonishing round of golf for an eighth grader and the youngest player to ever compete in the Masters. At that age, playing on the biggest stage in golf, most were hoping that Guan would simply break 80 on the slippery greens of Augusta National. But Guan, playing with Masters legend Ben Crenshaw, battled back from several bogeys with critical birdies that kept him around even-par. The putt on No. 18 put the perfect bow on the round, and provided the best story of the day:
Guan was suddenly the target of a frenzied media:
Question from media for Tianlang Guan, 14: "I have a daughter in the eighth grade. Would you like to meet her?" (No answer; next question.)— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) April 11, 2013
Fred Couples on Tianlang Guan: "He's a cool kid." Coming from the King of Cool himself, that's a major compliment.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) April 11, 2013
It wasn't just Couples (although his affirmation matters more), but nearly every player was asked about Guan as soon as they were off the course.
Tianlang now turns his attention towards making the cut on Friday night, which will likely hover around 1-over with a particularly gettable soft course. The benign scoring conditions will likely force him to shoot around 72 or 73 to stay above the cut line. There's no doubt he will be the most monitored player throughout the morning as he attempts to play through to the weekend. But what about just going ahead and winning it all at 14?
Can you win this Masters? Tianlang: "Probably not this year but one day in the future."— Dave Tindall (@DaveTindallgolf) April 11, 2013