On a Major Papers Sports Page Dr Burk Names Her Enemies
Happily oblivious to the currents of the game, Burk, chief of the National Council of Womens Organization in Washington, D.C., cranked up her word processor, alerted the mailroom staff, and did nothing less than steal the sports headline in the nations No. 1 circulation daily newspaper from golfs premier cup matches. Above the fold.
Burk sent letters Sept. 27 to seven prominent members of Augusta National Golf Club, which she is trying to compel to admit women members after 70 years as a rampart in the fort of all-maleness.
(The letters went to Lloyd Ward, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee; Sandy Weill, CEO of Citigroup, until lately a Masters telecast sponsor; Rep. Amory Houghton (R-N.Y.); former Georgia senator Sam Nunn; Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express; William Harrison, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; and Christopher Galvin, CEO of Motorola.)
Here, from a letter to one of the CEOs, is an example of Dr. Burks bayonet:
Your willingness to accept an award next month from the Business Womens Network for your work fostering diversity would indicate that you value womens opinions. We are asking you for an on-the-record statement as to how you reconcile your company policies against discrimination, and your marketing practices to women, with your membership in Augusta National Golf Club.
Hootie has heart surgery. Martha goes right for the heart.
More newsworthy within the golf world than the letters was what accompanied the story about them in Fridays USA Today: A complete (says that paper) membership list for the club. Augusta National officials had no public comment on the letters or the list, but a source close to the club said that the home of the Masters is stunned that the list was published. Reticence about the details of membership, even the fact that someone is a member, has long been a hallmark of Augusta National. No one knows how USA Today got the names, but it is likely that a member, or someone in a members family, turned over a membership directory. A complete roster of members is not known to be published anywhere else.
Listing the names of people who have been generally accused of discrimination exposes some of the loftiest executives in America to the derision of a populist public. Many members of that public are not too high on CEOs right now, regardless of what their legal rights to association in private may be.
That is one of the reasons Dr. Burk is currently winning this battle. She quickly bypassed the legal issue by admitting that the kind of discrimination Augusta National practices ' that is, the kind that does not deny anyone a fundamental right such as housing, education, or access to other basic rights of all persons ' is not a legal wrong. She proceeded immediately to moral wrong, and those who stayed with her over that mental speed bump appear to want to ride out the issue to the end.
And if Dr. Burk can, as it appears, get the populist press on her side, it doesnt matter that her true breadth of public support remains unclear. Critics questioned from the start whether American women truly felt represented by Dr. Burk on this issue, or cared about it all. And indeed, e-mails and letters to various editors betrayed some shoulder-shrugging among some women. But others said, You go to the first tee, girl. Not even Rick Reillys justifiable question in his Sports Illustrated column about the obnoxious women-only golf club in Toronto could derail the train Dr. Burk has fired up.
Good inside authority supports the notion that before Dr. Burk began this public battle, private sentiment within the club was swinging toward admitting women. The primary source of the clubs consternation has not been the idea of admitting women, but the prospect of being dictated to. These are men who do not like to be told what to do, no matter how right it may be.
Bullheaded as some might think that to be, it is the crux of the issue. Equal rights and the human dignity they protect are vital, to be sure. So too are the privacy and association rights on which the club relies. The undeniable moral aspect of the issue requires that we decide once and for all whether the indignation we feel over racial exclusion should indeed extend to gender-based segregation, especially when it comes to discrimination over non-fundamental rights. Golf, through its most famous private club, will help decide whether there should even be any distinction between fundamental and non-fundamental rights. The decisions effects could reach much farther than we imagine now.
That complexity, plus the notion that a token female membership at Augusta will be only a symbolic victory that will not change the gender landscape at other exclusive clubs, makes it hard to take a side on this issue. I confess to being as conflicted as anyone. And I suspect that the columnists who have chosen one side of the fence on this are no less conflicted, just less honest.
But this much I do know: Talk softens issues that seem intractable. Lets hope that if some lesson comes out of this (and a lesson would be better than, say, picket lines on Washington Road, a pay-per-view Masters, or no Masters), it is that when letters change hands in the future, even ones with bayonets between the lines, the recipient will pick up the phone. One phone call, one meeting, might have led to some timetable compromise ' some situation in which were congratulating people instead of seeing which one is in the lead over the other.
What are your thoughts on Augusta National and Dr. Burk?
Stenson leads strong cast of Bay Hill contenders
ORLANDO, Fla. – Henrik Stenson has a tortured history here at Bay Hill, a collection of close calls that have tested his mettle and certainly his patience.
Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational won’t get any easier. Not with a course that is already firm and fast and fiery, just the way the King would have wanted it. And not with 13 players within five shots of the lead, a group that includes Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and, yes, even Tiger Woods.
Without his best stuff Saturday, Stenson still managed to edge ahead of Bryson DeChambeau to take a one-shot lead heading into the final round. It’s familiar territory for the Swede, who posted four consecutive top-10s here from 2013-16, including a few agonizing near-misses.
Three years ago, Stenson appeared on his way to victory when he was put on the clock on the 15th hole. Rattled, he three-putted the next two holes and lost by a stroke. The following year, he was tied for the lead with three holes to play, then hit it in the water on 16 and bogeyed two of the last three holes.
“It wouldn’t be the only tournament where you feel like you’ve got some unfinished business,” Stenson said, “but I’ve been up in the mix a few times and we’re here again, so of course I would like to see a different outcome.”
What will be interesting Sunday is whether history repeats itself.
Neither Stenson nor DeChambeau is quick-paced, with DeChambeau even acknowledging that he’s one of the game’s most methodical players, stepping off pitch shots and checking (and re-checking) his reads on the green. With so much at stake, it’s not a stretch to imagine both players grinding to a halt on a course that got “crusty” in the late-afternoon sun.
“We’ve got a lot of guys behind me,” DeChambeau said, “so I’ve got to go deep tomorrow.”
The 24-year-old earned his breakthrough victory last July at the John Deere Classic, but that was one hot week as he tried to play his way out of a slump.
Even this week’s performance was unexpected, after he withdrew from the Valspar Championship because of a balky back.
Last weekend he underwent an MRI (clean), didn’t touch a club for three days and showed up here cautiously optimistic. His ball-striking hasn’t suffered at all – in fact, he’s ranked fifth in strokes gained-tee to green – and now he’s relishing the chance to take on some of the game’s biggest names.
“Whatever happens,” he said, “it’s going to be a great learning experience.”
Of the 13 players within five shots of the lead, 10 are Tour winners. That includes McIlroy, whose putter has finally come alive, and Rose, who shot a third-round 67 to move within three shots, and Fowler, whose game is finally rounding into form, and also Woods, who has won a record eight times at Bay Hill.
Even if he doesn’t pick up a pre-Masters victory – he’s five shots back, the same deficit he erased here in 2009 – Woods has showed flashes of his old self at one of his favorite playgrounds, whether it’s the blistered 2-irons off the tee, the daring approach shots or the drained 40-footers.
“I’ve got a chance,” he said.
And so do the rest of the major champions and PGA Tour winners assembled near the top of the leaderboard.
It should be a wild final round at Arnie’s Place – even if Stenson, for once, is hoping for a drama-free Sunday.
DeChambeau uses big words to describe back injury
ORLANDO, Fla. – Bryson DeChambeau needed just 30 seconds of explaining the state of his lower back to send the media center at the Arnold Palmer Invitational spinning.
DeChambeau shot an even-par 72 in the third round at Bay Hill, and he will start the final round one shot behind Henrik Stenson as he looks to win for the second time in his young PGA Tour career. DeChambeau’s strong play this week comes in the wake of his decision to withdraw from last week’s Valspar Championship because of a bad back.
DeChambeau is no stranger to new vocabulary words or adopting a scientific take on matters, and it was when he delved into the details of his injury that things got interesting.
“It was because my quadratus lumborum wasn’t working. My iliacus, longissimus thoracis, they were all kind of over-working if you want to get technical on that,” DeChambeau said. “But they weren’t working very well, and I overworked them. Pretty much my lower right back was hurting and I rested it. How about that?”
DeChambeau tied for fifth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month, but he has struggled to find results in the weeks since. One of the keys to a quick recovery between Innisbrook and Bay Hill was some time on the couch this past weekend and a binge session of The Walking Dead on Netflix.
“I literally didn’t do anything, and that’s really the first time I’ve done that in my entire life. I’ve never actually taken three days off where I didn’t touch a club,” DeChambeau said. “So that was unique for me and actually took me some time to acclimate to that, my body to get comfortable to get in a rested state. And then once it was finally able to rest, it healed a little bit and I was able to make a run for it this week.”
Woods fielding Masters practice-round requests
ORLANDO, Fla. – Heading into what is likely his final competitive round before the Masters, Tiger Woods is starting to set up his schedule for the days leading into the season’s first major.
Woods has won the Masters four times, most recently in 2005, and in the wake of a runner-up at the Valspar Championship and a strong showing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational he’ll head down Magnolia Lane with more momentum than he’s had in years. As a result, it’s not surprising that he has received more than a few inquiries about a possible practice round at Augusta National Golf Club during Masters week.
“I’ve gotten a couple requests here and there,” Woods said with a grin after a third-round 69 at Bay Hill.
Woods has played the Masters only once since 2014, but don’t expect him to try out some unfamiliar pairings on Tuesday and Wednesday amid the azaleas. Woods still plans to rely on a rotation he’s had for several years, playing with former champs Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara. O’Meara, who received his green jacket from Woods in 1998, plans to make this year his final Masters start.
“I traditionally have played with Freddie, if he can. We’re hoping he can come back and play again and play Augusta. I’ve played with Mark just about every single year,” Woods said. “It’s generally been those two guys, and those are the two guys I’ve grown up with out here on Tour. We sit next to each other actually at the champions’ dinner, and so we have known each other for a very long time.”
While Woods is no stranger to fielding offers for tips and advice from younger players, especially on a course he knows as well as Augusta National, one top-ranked name continues to stick out among the requests he’s received in recent weeks.
“Just the normal JT (Justin Thomas),” Woods said. “He’s always trying to get some practice rounds in.”
Stenson one clear of loaded leaderboard at Bay Hill
Four of the top 15 players in the world and two men with stellar amateur resumes will do battle Sunday to win Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s how things look through 54 holes at Bay Hill, where Tiger Woods sits five back at 7 under par.
Leaderboard: Henrik Stenson (-12), Bryson DeChambeau (-11), Rory McIlroy (-10), Justin Rose (-9), Ryan Moore (-9), Charley Hoffman (-8), Rickie Fowler (-8), Talor Gooch (-8), Ben An (-8)
What it means: For the second straight day, Stenson (71) will go off in the final pairing with DeChambeau (72), after both players failed to separate themselves from the field in Round 3, shooting a combined 1 under. Stenson really should have a win at Bay Hill by now. He finished in the top-10 four years in a row from 2013-2016, with three top-5s. The closest he came to victory was in 2015, when he lost to Matt Every by one shot after being put on the clock and three-putting the 15th and 16th greens. If he’s finally going to close the deal Sunday, the world No. 15 will need to hold off challenges from three of the top 13 players in the OWGR – No. 5 Rose, No. 7 Fowler and No. 13 McIlroy – and two men who won both the NCAA individual championship and the U.S. Amateur – DeChambeau and Moore.
Round of the day: John Huh and Austin Cook both made the 1-over cut on the number and shot 66 Saturday to move into a tie for 18th at 5 under.
Best of the rest: McIlroy, Rose and Jason Day (-5) all signed for 67. McIlroy remains in search of his first worldwide win since he walked away from East Lake with the Tour Championship and the FedExCup in 2016.
Biggest disappointment: Fowler was 11 under for the week but dropped three shots in his last two holes. He failed to get up and down from the front bunker at 17 and then had his ball almost fully bury in the lip of a greenside trap at 18. With only a small portion of the ball visible, Fowler took two to get out of the sand and two-putted his way to a double-bogey 6, dropping him to 2 under for the day and 8 under for the championship.
Shot of the day: Woods’ 210-yard 5-iron from the fairway bunker at the par-5 16th:
Quote of the day: "I'm going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow, and probably get a little bit of help. But my responsibility is to go out there and shoot a low one first." – Woods