MASTERS NOTES: Windy round saves penalized Guan from cut

Amateur Guan Tianlang holds up his ball between Ben Crenshaw, left, and Matteo Manassero, right, after sinking a par putt on the third hole during second round play in the 2013 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta.

Reuters Amateur Guan Tianlang holds up his ball between Ben Crenshaw, left, and Matteo Manassero, right, after sinking a par putt on the third hole during second round play in the 2013 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta.

AUGUSTA — What caused the penalty, probably helped keep him in the tournament.

In what rules official John Paramor said came after repeated discussions, 14-year-old amateur Tianlang Guan was assessed a penalty for slow play on the 17th hole Friday.

On his ball, Guan pared the hole and would have finished 3-over and in a good position to make the cut for the weekend. At 4-over, his chances diminished, but the wind clamped down on the scoring, and when Jason Day parred the final two holes to finish at 6-under, Guan's weekend plans were in place.

“I think it's still a great week for me (if I didn't make the cut),” Guan said. “I enjoy it so far, and I learned a lot.

“If I can make it I would be really happy for it.”

Guan's group, which included two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, fell out of pace at the turn on No. 10, and Guan was given an official warning on No. 13. Coming off of No. 16 after taking a long time looking at his putt, Paramor said he again approached Guan about his pace of play and called it a “bad time” when answering questions on the course minutes later.

Guan's tee shot on No. 17 tailed to the right and, with winds gusting, the eighth grader balked again on his club selection.

“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.

“The only problem is I have to make the decision.”

Paramor told people on the course he didn't start the 40-second clock on Guan until he returned to his ball after climbing a slope to look at his approach.

“It wasn't close,” Paramor said of Guan's time and it was after that shot that the penalty was assessed. Guan and Paramor walked up the fairway together with the amateur seemingly pleading his case.

Paramor also said he was certain Guan understood the reasons for the one-stroke penalty.

Crenshaw, who finshed well off the cut line, defending Guan after his round. He called his putt on No. 16 “diabolical” and then defended Guan's uncertainty in the 17th fairway.

“When you get the wind blowing out here, you are going to change your mind a lot,” Crenshaw said. “I'm a player, I fall, sometimes a little bit (on the side of players). It's not easy to get around this golf course, the way it is set up, for two days. Everybody is taking their time. It's difficult. I am so sorry. I am so sorry this has happened.”

Garcia wilts, rain or shine

With an early tee time, Sergio Garcia got to see a bit of everything.

The morning opened cloudy and by 10 a.m. rain began to fall, but not for long, giving way to bright sun And the whole time the wind was blowing.

A co-leader entering Friday, Garcia smashed and splashed his way to a 4-over 76, dropping him to minus-2 for the tournament. He bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4 on the front and the 11th and 13th on the back.

“(The course) was much more difficult today, very gusty winds,” Garcia said. “It was not only the strength (of the wind), because if it's consistent you kind of figure it out, but unfortunately today it was very, very gusty.”

Yet at 2-under, Garcia kept himself in striking distance, four shots back with two rounds remaining and he was happy with the way he hit felt on the course.

“I felt like I hit some nice shots,” Garcia said. “I just couldn't really give myself a lot of birdie chances, even though I was hitting some good shots I just couldn't figure out the wind exactly.”

New attitude, old Langer

Something needed to change for Bernhard Langer

The two-time Masters champion last made the cut at Augusta in 2005 and he's finished under par once since 2000. So, at age 55, the native of Germany and Champions Tour winning this year came to the Masters with a different approach.

“I have a different attitude this year, I'm trying to win, trying to be on the leaderboard, and not just trying to scrape in and make the cut,” Langer said. “So far, so good.”

Langer posted a pair of 1-under 71s the first two days, but the consistent final scores don't relay his two wild rounds.

On Thursday, he needed four birdies and on Friday it took three more and an eagle on No. 2. This is Langer's 30th go-around at the Masters and his understanding of the course helped him know how to attack certain places. He ceded bogey on No. 1 after going in the bunker and saved par on 18 by not putting directly at the pin and he nearly came up with a birdie.

“I think (experience) helps. It always helps,” he said. “I have had (that putt on 18) before and I've seen that pin position, I know what that green does.”

And now he'll be back on that green two more times this year and he's confident he can stay near the top.

“For me to win, everything has to go my way,” Langer said. “I got to start making some putts most of of all, so I'll be working on that.”

Kuchar not planning to be “silly”

When the wind picked up, things went wrong for Matt Kuchar.

The Georgia Tech graduate, who began the day 3-under par, played first nine holes even par, but struggled with three birdies on the back nine.

“There was enough wind to be tricky,” Kuchar said. “I want to say on the back nine it picked up and started getting to be fun out there.”

His final bogey came on No. 16 after he found the same bunker he did on Thursday.

“It's not an easy hole for me,” Kuchar said. “It should be here with — hit it in the middle of the green and kind of take what it gives you.”

A top-3 finisher in last year's tournament, Kuchar kept himself close to the leaders despite a rough final nine holes.

“You can only do what you can with the score,” said Kuchar, playing in his seventh Masters. “There's no sense in being silly, just play the shot that gives you the best chance to make a reasonable score out here. I think your game plan doesn't change, it's just a matter of making putts or not.”

Watson's putter failing

Defending Masters champion Bubba Watson gets his own tee time today.

At 4-over par, he just made the cut and will lead the field into the weekend this morning all alone at 9:25 a.m. and the reason is simple.

“The thing is just putting,” he said. “I had six three-putts, natural three-putts (in two days).”

Add in the two from the fringe and Watson considers it eight three-putts. No matter the number, the putting cost Watson a chance at a strong second round. He put up seven birdies, but countered them with six bogeys.

“Obviously I am playing well,” he said. “I just got to make the putts. I got to somehow make myself hit it harder on the putts, the longer putts.”

For the second day, Watson noted the his struggles with the speed of the greens not matching his expectations.

“I'm trying to respect the golf course and think it's going to be the Masters the we know and love and obviously I don't know and love it right now because I three-putted every hole it seemed like.”