- Associated Press - Friday, April 12, 2013

AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - Guan Tianlang didn’t need the school books he brought to America to learn two important life lessons in the Masters.

Don’t ask your caddie too many questions. And never trust foolish men in green jackets to do what is right.

Put a 14-year-old whose first language isn’t English in the heat of golf’s most prestigious championship? Sure, might be a good way to sell millions more in television rights and make a Masters hat a hot item in China.

Allow him to act like an indecisive kid when facing the most monumental moment of his young life? About as much chance of that as having Jim Nantz call Masters fans something other than patrons.

What could have been an international incident Friday was avoided _ barely _ when the boy wonder of Chinese golf slipped inside the cut line at Augusta National. The youngest player ever in the Masters escaped to play the weekend along with Tiger Woods and the other elder statesmen of golf.

It didn’t happen until Jason Day missed a birdie putt on the 18th green after almost most everyone else had gone home. Had it gone in, Guan would have gone home, too, ruining what just could be the best story of this Masters.

That it even came down to that should be an embarrassment to the stuffed shirts who run golf’s most hallowed grounds. They’re in charge of everything from the way sandwiches are wrapped at the food stands to making sure the azaleas bloom at just the right time.

And they’re the ones who allowed a rules official to penalize Guan for slow play, something that as far as anyone can tell had never happened before in a Masters.

Not in 76 previous Masters. Not ever.

Guan couldn’t figure out how to speed things up, even after he was warned. He kept asking his caddie questions and, as any parent of a teenager knows, decisions at that age sometimes don’t come easily.

Still, he toed the party line after more than an hour in the clubhouse being briefed on who knows what.

“I respect the decision they make,” said Guan, who has answered questions since he arrived in English, which he studies daily in the eighth grade.

Guan was an easy target, even though he and playing partners Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero never held up the group behind them. He was slow, and even playing in the Masters at his tender age isn’t an excuse for dawdling over shots.

But every threesome that teed off was taking five and a half hours to play a tremendously demanding course in swirling winds. Some of them included notoriously slow players, who understand what Guan didn’t _ how to game the system so they won’t get penalized.

They picked on a 14-year-old because they could. He had no agents to protest, no minders to stare down the green jackets. Just his mom and dad, an interpreter, and a few family friends.

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