This was one of the crazier Masters of recent memory.

Controversy #1

Tianlang Guan started off the controversy of the week. The 14 year old Amateur from China, was penalized for slow play. This is the first time ever a participant has been penalized for slow play in the Masters, and the first time on a tour event since 2010. Hopes were high in Guans’ home country of China – which is a phoenix rising from the ashes for the future of golf. (my cousin is there working on golf course design literally as we speak).

On Thursday while trying to make the cut, Guan was paired with Ben Crenshaw and the seeming old man from Italy, Matteo Manassero, who is also a young up and coming golfer on the world scene – mainly on the European Tour. The dominoes all started falling on hole #10, when the group was told they were out of position. For you “non” golf followers, this means get your act together and pick up the pace.

Again they were warned on Hole #12, and Guan was put on the clock. This effectively means you have 40 seconds or less to play your shot, once arriving at your golf ball.

He was warned that he was exceeding the time limit of being on the clock, and received an official warning on Hole #13. He was again warned on hole #16, and finally after exceeding his allowable time on his 2nd shot on hole #17 by what was quoted as “a considerable margin” he was informed that he would be penalized one shot for slow play.

Crenshaw and Manassero both admitted they could have likely stressed the significance of the situation a bit more to him, but they also agreed that there was no question he played very deliberate at times.

Crenshaw and Manessero, both veterans know how to work the system. You get warned, they bring an official over to time you, you pick up the pace of play, and then the official leaves….once that happens you dust back off the tortoise pace and continue on your way with your sun dial 6 ½ hour round that is made for television.

Problem is, Guan is just 14, this is his first big stage event, and hey we are playing Augusta National here…..I am sure he wanted to take a little extra time while playing certain shots. The problem is, he was not well versed enough to know when to kick it into second gear and get the transmission out of idle.

Controversy #2

Where would we all be in golf without Eldrick Tont Woods?

Round #2, right in position where he wants to be, lays up on 15. In a great position, Lets a lob wedge fly….right at the flagstick

WHACK!

Back into the water.

Tiger takes a drop, hits another shot, and gets it in the cup for a bogey. If he misses the flagstick, his golf ball likely ends up mere feet away from the cup and most assuredly would have resulted in a birdie.

And then there is the invention of HDTV.

An anonymous person “calls” in and reports a possible rules infraction of an incorrect drop. It appears that Tiger had mis-applied the drop based on rule 26-1. This applies to a yellow staked water hazard, where you have three options.

1. Play the ball from the drop area – decided against this one, he did not like the angle to the green.

2. Drop the ball, keeping the point where it last crossed the hazard between the hole and the drop spot, with no limit as far back as you can go. Problem here is that the ricochet off the flagstick would make that line much more to the left side of the fairway from where Tiger’s drop took place.

3. Return to the original spot and take a drop as nearly as possible to the original spot from which the ball was last played. – This is what he admittedly did….except….

Tiger freely admitted in a post round interview that he intentionally went back an extra 2 yards.

The Masters Golf Tournament Rules committee reviewed the tape and determined that he had breached the rule, but then imposed a relatively unknown and seldom used rule. This being put in place a few years ago after a similar call in incident disqualified a golfer for signing an incorrect scorecard, after it was deemed –again by a call-in viewer – that a rule had been broken.

There will be a lot of debate if Tiger should have gotten this ruling, or should have been DQ’d. I for one think he should have told the Masters Committee, “thanks for the favorable ruling, but, I need to disqualify myself based on what I see in the footage”

Of course I don’t expect a guy chasing 18 Majors to remove himself from competition in one, but it would have been the right and proper thing to do. In a tournament filled with history, integrity and honor, this would have been the most honorable out.

Instead he played well, but missed a lot of chances, and finished 4 strokes back and tied for 4th place.

Congratulations!

The overlooked story is that Adam Scott, in spite of making absolutely nothing with the long putter until #18 and then again on the 2nd playoff hole at #10 to win the coveted Green Jacket, take home his first major championship, and get the monkey and critics of his inability to win a big one, off of his back.

Likewise, props to Angel Cabrera, who gutted it out down the stretch and hit the best approach of the day on #18 to about 3 feet to set up the tying birdie and force a playoff. Cabrera lost the tournament in my mind when he forced the issue on #13. He hit an iron out of the pine straw and into Rae’s Creek when he really could have hit a lay-up shot and still played an easy wedge into the green and set up a likely birdie opportunity. He had the lead by 2 strokes at the time….and likely did not need to make this play.

But we will never know for sure.

Until next time…Stay Classy Adelaide, Australia.

 

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Johnny Goodman writes a weekly sports column for The Soap Boxers. His articles can be found in The Goodman File.

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