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Guan Tianlang

Guan Tianlang

Notebook: Rules officials keep close eye on Guan Add to ...

TIC, TOC: Rules officials kept a close eye on Guan Tianlang, a day after a penalty for slow play nearly kept the 14-year-old from playing this weekend.

The youngest player to make the cut at the Masters said he was never put on the clock Saturday. But the eighth-grader from China was told at least twice on the back nine at Augusta National to pick up his pace.

Guan’s player partner, Thorbjorn Oleson, says he doesn’t think the teen was lollygagging. He said Guan was handling the attention from fans and rules officials alike “really, really good.”

Guan was penalized for slow play on the 17th hole Friday. The one-stroke penalty left him at 4 over for the tournament, and he had to wait until the very last group finished to learn that he could stick around for two more rounds. (AP)

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SCHOOL CRAZE: Chinese teenager Guan Tianlang extended his record run at the Masters into the third round, followed by larger galleries and a ‘Guan Army’ of young admirers at Augusta National on Saturday.

The 14-year-old Guan, the youngest competitor ever in the Masters, made the cut despite being handed a stroke penalty for slow play on Friday.

The weekend brought more school-aged children to the golf course keen to watch the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, and chant his name after good shots.

“I’m really happy and I really appreciate that they’re watching me here,” said Guan, an eighth grader back home.

The slender teenager saved his best for last, using his belly putter to sink a spectacular 60-foot putt for par on the 18th that drew a huge roar from the crowd.

“It’s a really long putt and good to make it,” said Guan, whose 36-hole score was better than 32 players in the field for the year’s first major who missed the cut.

Guan said he was thinking about trying to qualify for the upcoming U.S. Open.

“I tried last year, but just kind of had fun,” he said.

Regardless of what he shoots in Sunday’s final round, Guan will be going to Butler Cabin along with the new Masters champion to receive the silver cup that is awarded to the tournament’s low amateur.

“It’s my honor to be there and I’m really happy,” said Guan. (Reuters)

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AUSSIE! AUSSIE! AUSSIE!: The Aussies have had enough of their oh-fer at Augusta National.

Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Jason Day are in the top five heading into Sunday's final round at the Masters, giving the Australians perhaps their best chance at ending their excruciating drought at the club. The Masters remains the only major an Australian has never won.

"It's hard to say exactly what it means. I'd rather not sit here and wonder so much, I'd rather do that if I win" Sunday, said Scott, a stroke behind leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera. "But, look, Aussies are proud sporting people, and we'd love to put another notch in our belt, just like any great sporting country.

"This is one thing that one of us would like to do tomorrow, for sure."

It's not as if the Australians haven't had their chances.

Scott and Day were in the hunt two years ago, finishing second to Charl Schwartzel. And who can forget Greg Norman's heartbreaks? Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine in 1986 to take the green jacket from him. The next year, Larry Mize chipped in from 140 feet during a playoff.

And no one will ever forget 1996. The Shark had a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo, only to gag it all away with a final-round 78.

"It's a great opportunity for all of us to be the first," Day said. "There's been some great Aussies in the past that have had an opportunity to win the Masters and fell short a little bit. So if it happens tomorrow, that's great.

"If it doesn't, then we're going to keep plugging away." (AP)

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CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES SINK: Rory McIlroy tumbled down the leaderboard after dropping five shots in five holes Saturday at the Masters.

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