Tianlang Guan got the bad news on the 17th hole that his slow play had cost him a stroke and possible chance at becoming the youngest golfer ever to make the cut at the Masters.
"It’s difficult, he’s played so well," ESPN analyst Curtis Strange said after European Tour rules official John Paramor assessed the penalty on the 14-year-old. "Your first instinct is to get on John Paramor [but] he’s just doing his job."
Paramor approached Guan, the first player since Glen Day in 1995 to be on the receiving end of a pace-of-play penalty at a PGA Tour-sanctioned event, after the youngster finished the 17th hole. Playing partner Matteo Manassero was not particularly surprised by the ruling.
"He’s been slow," Manassero said after finishing the second round on Friday. "Sometimes he had the right club ... and he was sure but ... to be clear in his mind he was asking [his caddie] one extra question."
For sure, the pace of play is a perennial problem on tour, and with a finishing time in the 5:15 range, Guan’s group did not seem to be obsessively dawdling. Still, as anyone who watched the teenager take two strokes and back off and think a bit more before striking his first tee shot during Wednesday’s par 3 tourney can tell you, Guan could use a bit of a push from his caddie.
Guan blamed the wet weather for his indecision about which clubs to use but said he was cool with the ruling and was pleased with his Masters week, even if it were to come to a premature end on Friday.
"I respect the decision," he told ESPN. "It’s still a wonderful experience for me. I enjoyed this week so far. I think I did a pretty good job." Here's video of Guan's post-round interview with Tom Rinaldi:
Paramor, by the way, was involved in a times dust-up with Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington during the 2009 Bridgestone Invitational.
And for those wondering, Steve Lowery in the 2004 PGA Championship was the last player in a major to suffer a slow-play punishment, according to ESPN, though the PGA of America says it was Gregory Bourdy at the 2010 PGA.