The Sunday Before the Augusta Storm

By Associated PressApril 7, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Peter Lonard was among the early arrivals Sunday at the Masters, and he was surprised by what he saw.
 
It wasn't the two men selling ``I Support Hootie'' buttons on a street corner outside Augusta National Golf Club, or the three dozen people who gathered downtown to support the ``Women Against Martha Burk'' campaign.
 
Lonard was trying to figure out why so many people he didn't know were playing golf on a course that was four days away from hosting the first major championship of the year.
 
``I thought the course would be empty, maybe a couple of pros fluttering around and that would be it,'' Lonard said. ``That was quite a shock to the system.''
 
Sunday before the Masters is one of the busiest days of the season at Augusta National. Members and their guests -- which included five women in the span of an hour -- teed off in rapid succession once the rain stopped.
 
That meant Lonard, Scott Verplank, Shigeki Maruyama and the other 50 players who registered had to check with the starter and wait their turn.
 
Lonard didn't mind. The 34-year-old Aussie, who qualified for the Masters by winning in Australia late last year, got nervous just driving down Magnolia Lane.
 
``It's awesome, isn't it,'' he said from the putting greens, gazing across the lush, green fairways lined by towering Georgia pines. ``It's got a presence about it.''
 
This year's Masters is expected to have an added presence because of Augusta National's all-male membership.
 
It started last summer when Burk and her National Council of Women's Organizations urged club chairman Hootie Johnson to admit a female member so it didn't become an issue when the Masters was played.
 
Nine months later, it has become an issue.
 
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office has approved permits for the nine groups who plan to protest during the Masters.
 
That didn't include Vincent Vaughan and Tim Taylor, who received a permit to sell merchandise in a small tent on the corner of Washington and Berckmans Roads -- buttons that say ``I Support Hootie'' and cost $5. Even though Masters week doesn't start until Monday, business was brisk.
 
``This ain't about Martha,'' Vaughan said. ``It's all about supporting the golf tournament and what a great tournament this is.''
 
The other protests are not scheduled to begin until Thursday, and their demonstrations should cover just about everything.
 
Burk and the Rev. Jesse Jackson plan to demonstrate against the all-male membership. Burk wants to protest outside the gates, but officials said that would cause safety problems, and they approved a 5.1-acre site a half-mile away. The location is pending in court.
 
Two groups have received permits to protest against Burk. Another group plans to protest against Jackson. A one-man faction of the Ku Klux Klan, who lists Tiger Woods as his favorite golfer, supports Augusta National's rights to a private membership.
 
Another man wants to demonstrate in support of President Bush's war policy.
 
Augusta caddiesEpitomizing the circuslike atmosphere, the ninth protest permit went to Deke Wiggins and his ``People Against Ridiculous Protests.''
 
Those protests will start as early as Thursday, with most of the activity -- including Burk and Jackson -- scheduled for one-day demonstrations on Saturday.
 
Inside the gates, not much changed.
 
Caddies were dressed in the traditional white coveralls. Members who didn't play wore their green jackets. Johnson was spotted taking a quiet walk with his wife.
 
It still was enough to make Lonard catch his breath as he walked onto the golf course for the first time. He has never been to a tournament so early, but he made an exception for the Masters.
 
``I wanted to get here before all the hoopla,'' he said.
 
Related Links:
  • Augusta, Ga., Weather
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
  • Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

    David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

    “Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

    Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

    “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

    Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

    Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

    Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

    1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

    2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

    While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

    Getty Images

    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

    LPGA:

    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

    Getty Images

    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm