Jason Day loves Augusta National, and if you didn’t pick him in your pool or your Fantasy Golf team, then well, you should have listened to me! I kid, I kid.
In difficult conditions with swirling winds and tucked pins, Day, who is trying to become the first Australian to win The Masters, fired an impressive four-under 68, six-under total, to take a one-shot lead over fellow Australian Marc Leishman and 53-year-old Fred Couples. Day’s only other start was in 2011 when he finished T2.
Unfortunately, the story of the day isn’t so much about golf, per se — okay, I guess it is because 14-year-old amateur Tianlang Guan, who won the 2012 Asian Amateur, made the cut, despite a one-shot penalty for slow play on the 17th.
Guan posted a two-day total of four-over and he’s T55 heading into the weekend, but he is inside the cut line because he’s within 10 shots of the lead. (60 professionals and one amateur at 4-over 148 from a field of 87 professionals and six amateurs.) The eighth-grader from China makes history as the youngest to play in The Masters and to play the weekend. It’s seriously impressive — not many first-time Masters participants can say the same.
An “international incident” (Ben Crenshaw’s words) has been avoided, thankfully.
Guan was a class act in his post-round television interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi.
“Today’s weather [was] not so good,” he told ESPN. “[The] winds change a lot. I just had to change my club … so [I went] over 50 seconds. I respect the decision.”
I’m not sure what I’m more impressed by: The way Guan handled himself and spoke so eloquently in his second language OR his play.
Many pros could learn from this kid. In fact, everyone should be required to watch that post-round interview.
Many players tweeted about slow play and Guan’s penalty, including Graeme McDowell.
What message are we trying to send out to the world giving the 14 yr old kid a shot penalty today? It was a 6 hr round. Why single him out?
— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) April 13, 2013
So did Bubba Watson:
Made the cut! But over 5 hours to play golf the 1st day and 5 & half hours on 2nd day!! #SlowPlayIsAProblemInGolf
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) April 13, 2013
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods either led or co-led for part of the day, but he dropped two shots in the last five holes. He had an unlucky mishap on the 15th when his ball hit the flag and then ricocheted into the water hazard. Woods salvaged bogey. He three-putted the 18th to close with another bogey.
However, he is still just three shots off the lead.
“I felt like I really swung the club well and I didn’t get much out of this round,” Woods said after signing for a two-day total of three-under.
Other notables on the leaderboard; 2009 Masters champ Angel Cabrera is -4, T4, along with Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker. Adam Scott, Jason Dufner, David Lynn, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, K.J. Choi and Woods are T7.
Quite a leaderboard, huh? It’s shaping up to be a hell of a weekend — one for the ages, if I may.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)