AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Given his fresh experience on the topic of controversial penalties, Tianlang Guan naturally was asked what he thought about the one that had just been assessed to Tiger Woods. He replied with familiar words, "I think rules are rules."
The 14-year-old was not trying to be a wiseguy, either. He was trying to be polite to the Masters official apparatus that had docked him one stroke Friday for slow play. The youngster from China added, "I respect the decisions they make."
It was left to everyone else to notice the coincidence in the fact that Woods was asked on Friday about Guan's difficulty and had said, "Well, rules are rules."
Golfers are golfers and everyone learns lessons, whether they be an all-time great or a kid in the eighth grade. Guan fits in the latter category, still idolizing Woods, and he had a happily uneventful round at the Masters Saturday.
No penalty strokes, no problems with keeping up with the group ahead this time. "The weather is good today and we played in twosomes, so we played fast," Guan said after his historic round, as the youngest golfer ever to have made it to the third round and the only amateur to do so this year.
Officials did speak with him and playing companion Thorbjorn Olesen on the 12th hole Saturday. "They said we are a couple minutes behind but we are still good," Guan said.
It was only about pars (13) and bogeys (five) for him in his 77 yesterday. That is, all about the golf, not a tempest. His one-stroke penalty for slow play Friday had stolen the show (before anyone realized Woods had taken an illegal drop on No. 15). He admitted that he had watched the ending of Round 2 on TV, watching to see if he would make the cut. Was he nervous? "A little," he said, in English.
He has shown almost no signs of nerves on the course, and finished his day by making a putt on No. 18 that he estimated was 60 feet. "I think I had a pretty good run the first two days and today feels pretty good in the first two days," he said, "and today feels pretty good, not badly."