Augusta National Debate Extends to Players
Martha Burk, the chairwoman for the NCWO, said on ESPN radio that PGA Tour players need to take a moral stand in the debate as to whether the private club, which hosts the Masters Tournament, should include women members.
I know that women want to be members and I imagine that sooner or later (Augusta National chairman) Hootie Johnson will invite a woman to be a member there,' said 1998 Masters champion Mark OMeara. 'But from the standpoint of being forced to have a lady member there, you know, its a private club, and you cant always agree with what people do in a private club, but you know, thats why its private.
My feeling is, just back off a little, let it calm down and everything will be fine and I imagine that sooner or later there will be a female member.
A current member of Augusta National told ESPN radio that the club considered admitting a female member this year and discussed the matter four months ago, but changed their minds when they felt the NCWO was forcing them to do so.
After publicly trading letters of disapproval, Burk said she was going to target the Masters sponsors. Johnson countered by announcing the tournament was dropping its sponsors ' IBM, Coca-Cola and Citigroup ' in 2003, to shield them from the controversy.
Now, after saying she would next go after CBS, which has broadcasted the Masters for 46 years, Burk has targeted the players ' many of whom are reluctant to get involved.
I think the club probably has the right to do what they want to do, but I dont see why my opinion should count, said Justin Leonard.
Ive been on the road and havent been reading the papers, so Im just going to stay out of it, said 2000 Masters champion Vijay Singh.
There are others, however, who are not riding the fence.
You know what, its a private club and they can do what they want to do and if they dont want a woman member there then thats their prerogative, Steve Stricker said.
It doesnt really affect my life whether they have a woman member there or not. But, you know, Im going to go play in The Masters if Im invited because its where you want to be in April.
Augusta National has not had a woman member in its 69-year history. It introduced its first black member in 1990.
Over the course of the debate, the club has cited the following as its constitutional rights and the difference between Augusta National, a private club, and The Masters, a major golf tournament:
1. This is not a legal issue. The Masters has a constitutional right to its private membership.
2. Martha Burk tries to equate this to the Shoal Creek racial issue in 1990, but they are totally different. In America, there are women's colleges, the Girl Scouts of America and women's health clubs throughout the country. In Canada and overseas, there are women-only golf clubs.
3. The Club possibly will have a woman member in the future, but it
should be the Club's decision, not the decision of an outside group that knows little about the Club or Tournament. In Ms. Burk's initial letter, she placed a deadline on the Club to have a woman member (2003), and discussed the sponsors of the Tournament.
4. The winner in this sponsorship issue is the viewer. There will now be 12 hours of commercial free golf coverage.
5. What is presently happening is a corporate campaign. The National Council of Women's Organizations is targeting anyone associated with the Masters.
6. The reason we chose not to ask the sponsors to participate in 2003 was to spare them the inevitability of a continued corporate campaign that could have included protests and boycotts.
7. Dr. Burk is now telling individuals what to watch on television. In three online polls conducted this weekend, nearly 90 percent of respondents said they would continue to watch the Masters on CBS. Over 4.3 million women watched the Masters last year.
8. The Masters and Augusta National are different. One is a private club, and the other is a world-class sporting event that is completely inclusive.
9. The Masters is being used as a symbol. Several other Clubs do not allow women to play or even to enter the grounds. Women play at Augusta National regularly, and there are no restrictions on tee times. Women played over 1,000 rounds at the Club last year.
Burk said she is still deciding whether or not to picket The Masters in April.
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.