Will Masters Officials Undo Good Intentions by Penalizing a 14-Year-Old?

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IApril 12, 2013

Tianlang Guan at The Masters
Tianlang Guan at The MastersDavid Cannon/Getty Images

Sometimes men just need to stop and think. Call Mom, or if she’s not available, a wife or a sister. Get Sylvia Brown or the Long Island Medium and channel somebody.

Even new Augusta National member Condi Rice, former Secretary of State, would have told European Rules Official John Paramour to just take a breath rather than penalize a 14-year-old Chinese amateur golfer for playing a little too slowly. 

Really?  Picking on a 14-year-old kid who was struggling with club selection in changing wind?  An extra 30 seconds is going to ruin everything? 

Then USGA guy and Augusta National Member Fred Ridley, who could have said something like we’ve reviewed the situation and decided at the end of the day that he did not exceed the time limit, and we are lifting the penalty, didn’t say that at all.  

He piled on by issuing a statement saying the time had been exceeded and the kid was getting slapped with a stroke.  Like that makes it better or okay. Issuing a statement.  You can only hope the chairman overrules it between now and tomorrow morning.

There are plenty of card-carrying members of the PGA Tour and European Tour who are NEVER penalized despite the fact that paint actually dries while waiting for them to hit their next shots.

When the US Open comes around, the first two days there will be six hour rounds and the USGA NEVER penalizes anybody for slow play.  There are any number of PGA Tour events where play is so slow that there will be three groups on the tee of par threes. 

And yet no one is penalized then.  No need to call out names. They know who they are.  Sometimes it’s just from cramming as many people as possible on to a golf course with 156 guys who all have sacred pre-shot routines. 

This young man, Tianlang Guan, was invited as a winner of a tournament that Augusta National sponsors in Asia especially to broaden the growth of the game there.  They brought him here a month early to help him acclimate.  He  has eighth-grade homework assignments while he’s gone.  

By issuing a penalty to him, even if he was in the wrong, it wipes out all the good that extending the invitation created.  Now there are a billion people who think Augusta National has insulted them. He's a guest here, not the enemy.  

When would this be acceptable?  It would be acceptable if other players were regularly getting slow play penalties. Apparently the last time that happened was 10 years ago, if radio announcers on ESPN Radio have it right.  Ten years.  Actually I wasn’t aware it had ever happened.  

Mr. Chairman, reverse the ruling. Say the Green Jackets looked at the fine print or another official had a different opinion or something, but reverse this penalty. It might make the difference as to whether he plays the weekend. 

You don’t want this stain.  The situation has been bungled, and you still have the opportunity to turn it around. Even if you know you are making an exception and if we know you are making an exception, let’s all, this one time, just say it was a decision made in haste without thorough review.