Chinese prodigy Guan still in Masters despite penalty

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Chinese 14 year-old golf prodigy Guan Tianlang made the cut at the Masters despite the best attempts of the authorities to stop him. By finishing within 10 shots of the leader Jason Day, Guan ensured he would compete over the weekend but the PGA's and Augusta’s image of stuffy officiousness was reinforced by the decision to penalise Guan a shot for slow play.

In windy and rainy conditions players were taking their time to size up their options before playing their shots. For a 14 year-old in his first major, it was understandable if he didn’t want to be rushed, but the PGA stuck to the letter of the law. "Guan received his first warning on hole 13 after his second shot," the authorities explained in a statement. "In keeping with the applicable rules he was penalised following his second shot on the 17th hole when he again exceeded the 40-second time limit by a considerable margin."

There is an argument that if Guan wants to play at the highest level, the same rules should apply to him, but penalties come under the discretion of the referee John Paramor, and many observers felt that a quick word of warning would have been a more sporting approach to the teenager. It has been 18 years since a similar penalty has been imposed in a PGA Tour event.

Guan did not complain. "I respect the decision they make,” he said. "I think they should do it with respect to everybody. I just changed my routine before the Masters, and the routine is good, but I think today is pretty hard because, if you're timed only 40 seconds, it's pretty hard because you need to make the decision. The wind switched a lot. But that's for everybody."

Ben Crenshaw was sympathetic to Guan. "When you get the wind blowing out here, believe me, you're going to change your mind a lot," he said. "Everybody is taking their time, it's difficult." Fred Couples was a little tougher. "It feels hard to give a 14-year-old a penalty but he's in the field," he said. "He beat a lot of guys yesterday, whatever the hell age he is."

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