“Very, very impressive,” Crenshaw said. “. . . I see nothing but straight up from here. I think he’ll grow more. He’s only 14. But it’s obvious he has a great love for it.”
By that time, though, Guan’s group was well behind the threesome in front of it, a condition referred to in tournament play as being “out of position.” According to Paramor, Guan’s group was warned about its status on the 10th hole. Guan was first put on the clock on the 12th. And after his second shot at the par-5 13th, he was warned for the first time.
At the par-3 16th, Guan faced a long, difficult downhill putt that Crenshaw called “the most diabolical putt you can face.” Guan, who actually had to face away from the hole to play the correct amount of break, considered it carefully, and struck a solid putt.
“I’m gonna say this,” Crenshaw said. “Anybody would take time in order to get up and hit that putt.”
Yet as Guan walked to the 17th tee, Paramor issued his second warning. The next violation would be a penalty.
Still, such a measure is almost never enforced, even as players have complained repeatedly about the pace of play on the PGA Tour. The last time rules officials assessed a one-shot penalty was in 1995, to Glen Day at the Honda Classic.
But after Guan struck his shot into the 17th, Paramor approached. The two had a lengthy, almost animated conversation as they walked to the green. Eventually, Guan putted out. He took four shots on the hole, but Matteo Manassero, the third player in the group who was keeping Guan’s score, wrote down 5.
“We all feel sorry,” Mannasero said. “But this is the way professional golf goes. . . . By the time he comes here [as a pro], he’s going to be ready, and he’s going to have fixed that particular thing.”
When Guan finished with a nice par at the 18th, Crenshaw approached, and patted him sympathetically on the shoulder. Guan shook his head solemnly, then looked skyward.
“I am so sorry,” Crenshaw said afterward. But hours later, there was nothing about which to feel sorry. The youngest player in Masters history will return for the weekend, two more rounds of experience ahead.