On a day where scoring where was incredibly difficult at Augusta National, eighth grader Tianlang Guan had more than just the conditions to deal with during his roller coaster Friday at The Masters. Guan had to play through soft, windy conditions just like the rest of the field, but also had to deal with a one stroke penalty for slow play. He was assessed the penalty after his second shot on the 17th hole, after apparently being warned repeatedly to pick up the pace.
Guan finished his day at four over par after shooting a second round 75. Thanks to Jason Day’s magnificent 68 on Friday, the teenager spent several hours in the clubhouse sweating it out, waiting to see if he would make the cut. Guan made the cut on the number, as the top 50 (and ties) and those within 10 shots of the lead have the opportunity to play the weekend.
The thing that impressed me the most was not even Guan’s golf game, which is astonishing for a 14 year old. Rather, it was his composure and positive attitude in dealing with the penalty stroke. Many pro golfers would have acted like petulant children after being assessed that one stroke penalty. Guan handled himself with class and dignity. When asked after the round whether or not he agreed with the ruling of the officials, Guan simply responded, “I respect their decision.”
I know it’s easy to want to give the kid some slack because of his age, but if he wants to play with the big boys he has to follow the same rules. If this whole golf thing doesn’t work out for the teenager from China, maybe he can start teaching classes to other pro athletes about how to deal with adversity while not making yourself look like a jackass.