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Friday, April 12, 2013
Updated: April 13, 3:21 AM ET
Guan's penalty: right or wrong call?

ESPN.com

Jason Day may hold a one-stroke lead at Augusta, but Friday's top storyline was arguably the slow-play penalty against 14-year-old Tianlang Guan. What is the right call? And what did we learn about Tiger Woods after his unlucky break on No. 15?

Our experts tackle these topics and more.


1. Fact or fiction: Penalizing Tianlang Guan for slow play in Round 2 was the right decision.

Paul Azinger, ESPN.com TV analyst: It's 100 percent fiction. I saw players take a minute and a half deciding what to hit into No. 16 today. And for him to get a time for going over 50 seconds twice, to get a penalty, is a joke, especially in today's conditions. The official who gave him the penalty should have been a little more discerning in that. Very, very, very unfair.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Fact. Guan was warned several times to speed up his play. The rules are the rules. This is the big leagues. On Friday, he should have learned a very important lesson about competing at the elite level. Golf shots are just one aspect of this business.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: A tough call, but fiction. Not when there's never been a stroke penalty given in Masters history, and not when the entire round was played in extreme conditions and groups were taking more than five hours.

Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: Fiction. You needed a sun dial to time the pace of play during Friday's rounds for lots of groups. Maybe Guan violated the letter of the law, but I'm not sure he violated the spirit of it. The penalty seemed, under the circumstances, unnecessary and borderline heartless.


2. What did we learn about Tiger after how he handled the bad break on No. 15 on Friday?

Paul Azinger: He recognized that showing a great deal of negative emotion at that moment was of no value. He contained himself enough to play the next shot, which he played from only two yards farther away. So he had the same exact shot facing him. There would have been no value in kicking and screaming. I'm not sure we learned anything except that he was smart enough not to make a scene.

Farrell Evans: Tiger is resilient. I'm sure that's not the first time that he's knocked down a flag in a big event. It was a bad break, but it happens.

Bob Harig: He didn't let a bad break cost him even more. That would have been tough to bounce back from, but he hit a great shot to save a bogey, then followed with another strong up-and-down at the 16th hole.

Gene Wojciechowski: Amazing, wasn't it? Most players would have broken into little pieces after watching a perfect wedge shot carom off a flagstick and into the water. Woods sticks it close for bogey.


3. Give us a player outside the top 10 who will play his way into contention come Sunday.

Paul Azinger: Rory McIlroy (T-14) and Luke Donald (T-20), because they're thoroughbreds. They were both No. 1 in the world within the past two years.

Farrell Evans: Rory MclIroy is at 2-under for the tournament after a 70 on Friday. He's in an excellent position to make a charge on Saturday.

Bob Harig: Rory McIlroy. He bounced back nicely after a couple of early bogeys to shoot 2-under-par 70 -- a score bested by only three players -- and finds himself tied for 14th, just four strokes back.

Gene Wojciechowski: Rory McIlroy, but I'm not sure my heart's into it. I'll make Charl Schwartzel my safety pick.


4. Which Australian has the best shot to slip on the green jacket Sunday night?

Paul Azinger: Jason Day. Historically, 13 of the past 14 Masters winners came from the top five going into the weekend. His length off the tee is of great value. He's a very nice wedge player who putts well. He's decent inside 100 yards. He's an all-around player. He finished second in three majors in a row in 2011, and I think he could do win here. I wouldn't be surprised, but I still think Tiger's going to win.

Farrell Evans: I like Jason Day. I know Adam Scott has more experience in majors, but I like the way Day handled himself on Friday. He won't get overwhelmed by the stage.

Bob Harig: Adam Scott. He's very quietly played his way into a tie for seventh and made a nice birdie on the 18th hole to salvage a par-72 on Friday. He's only three back.

Gene Wojciechowski: I'm leaning toward Adam Scott. He's sort of sneaking around only three shots back.