Slow player Guan quick to pick up on Tiger wisdom
Notebook: ‘Rules are rules,’ quips teen after being asked about Woods’ penalty
TAT FOR TIT: You may think it’s just coincidence, but here is what Tiger Woods said Friday when he learned that 14-year-old Tianlang Guan had been penalized a stroke for slow play.
“Well,” Woods said, “rules are rules.”
Saturday, after shooting 77, Guan was asked what he made of the two-stroke penalty Woods was assessed for taking an illegal drop on Friday.
“I think rules are rules,” he said.
OLD VOLKS: At 55, you’re not supposed to contend in a major championship on a course as long as Augusta National, but then, Freddie Couples has been a regular near the top since he turned 50 ... so why not two-time Masters champ Bernard Langer?
“I didn’t say we couldn’t contend. I said it’s very difficult to win on a long golf course like this, that’s all, and I still stick to that,” said Langer who has shot 71-71-72, a reflection of his steady personality. “But at the same time I say it’s going to happen that a senior player is going to win a major championship. Tom Watson almost did it obviously on a little shorter golf course (Turnberry, in the 2009 Open), Fred Couples can do it any given moment, and there’s a few of us that might do it, too. Vijay just turned 50; he’s capable of winning majors at his age. He’s still long and fit, and it’s just a matter of time.”
NO GUARANTEES: Then there was the young lion, Rory McIlroy, who blew himself up on the back nine Saturday with an ignominious 42 for a 79 total, ending any hopes he had when he hit into the water at the 11th and 15th, dropping five shots on those two holes and sitting 12 shots out of it after 54 holes.
It didn’t look as though he quit, though his scorecard did.
“Obviously, the margins are very small on this course and when you get on the wrong side of some of these slopes, you can’t help but get a penalty,” said McIlroy.
“I feel like I played smart enough. I hit 3wood off the first, 5wood off the second. I mean, I’m playing it the way I know the way you should play it. I’m not taking too much on, I’m not being too defensive. I feel like my strategy’s right, it’s just sometimes if your execution is just that little bit off you pay a big price for it.”
BUBBA BYTES: The defending champion was first off the tee, played with a non-participating marker Saturday, got around in three hours, 20 minutes and shot 70, but he’s well out of it. He thought, when rumours swirled about a possible disqualification of Woods, that he wouldn’t be the odd man at the start of the draw.
“Yeah, I thought he was going to be disqualified is what I heard from the Golf Channel, that’s what I was figuring,” Bubba Watson said, grinning. “But, you know, all information could be wrong on that media outlet there.”
He admitted he always called an official in on any iffy situation, “because I don’t know the rule book. Just like today on 11 (where he hit it in the water) I called in the rules official, even though the ball drop was there. Just made sure everything went right. Even if I’m on a cart path I make sure I get a rules official over there, just to make sure I don’t do anything wrong.
“And once the rules official tells you a rule, that’s law. So even if he makes a bad ruling, it’s still law.”
Woods’s problem was that he thought he knew the rule, and didn’t call in an official to confirm that his drop was legal. The Masters doesn’t have walking officials with each group, so calling for a ruling is always a time-consuming process. Tournament competition chair Fred Ridley said that policy might be reviewed.
GOOD RULE: Watson said he agrees with Rule 33-7, which can protect players from being disqualified after the fact in cases where viewers have called in to point out an infraction.
“First of all I, personally, if I see somebody do a rules infraction, I don’t know which number to call. So I don’t even know how these people get a number to call. And obviously they got more time on their hands than I do, because I don’t know the number and I’m playing in the golf tournament,” Watson said. “So I think the rule is great. Because it should protect us. The sad thing is the high profile player gets the camera on him at all times. Like me today, there’s no cameras on me today, everybody could care less what I was doing.”
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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 13: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on from the 13th green during the third round of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 13, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Photograph by: Harry How, Getty Images