Burk Appealing Ruling
Burk, who wants Augusta National Golf Club to admit its first female member, plans to appeal two separate rulings by U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr.
'I think it's clear they acted in the best interests of the city and the club rather than the best interests of the First Amendment,' Burk said in a telephone interview.
Burk, working with the Georgia chapter of the ACLU, will ask a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Bowen's rulings before her scheduled Masters protest.
Time is drawing short. The tournament begins Thursday, and Burk's group is planning to protest during the third round Saturday.
'I'm a little surprised,' Burk said. 'I didn't think they would be so blatant acting in the club's interest and not the public interest.'
Burk wants to protest outside the main entrance of the club, believing that would give her cause maximum exposure. But the sheriff, citing safety concerns, said her group will be restricted to a site about a half-mile away.
City attorney Jim Wall praised the rulings.
'Certainly we are pleased the court upheld the validity of the ordinance and the validity of decisions the sheriff made as far as public safety issues,' Wall said.
Meanwhile, heavy thunderstorms kept golfers from getting on the course Monday. The gates never opened to fans, either - the first time that's happened during Masters week since 1983.
While the skies were still dark and threatening, the rain held off Tuesday morning. Fans were allowed inside and the course opened for practice rounds.
Burk, who heads the National Council of Women's Organizations, wanted to post 24 demonstrators outside the front gate of Augusta National and 200 more across the street.
Sheriff Ronald Strength, who has broad authority over public protests, said there's too much traffic in front of the club during the tournament to ensure safe protests.
Strength told Burk and other groups they must gather at a 5.1-acre site nearly a half-mile from the gate.
A group headed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson also has been approved for a second site even further away from the club's main entrance.
ACLU lawyers challenged the ordinance, saying it gives the sheriff too much power to approve or deny protests and dictate their location.
Bowen sided with the city in two separate rulings Monday.
'The ordinance does not discriminate against a particular viewpoint or limit speech to certain subject matters,' he wrote in a 17-page decision.
In a second ruling, Bowen said the sheriff acted properly to enforce the ordinance.
The judge called the area outside Augusta National 'profoundly congested' during the Masters and said allowing protesters to congregate outside the gate presents 'a realistic, plausible, even probable potential for some accidental injury.'
Augusta National maintained that it had no interest in the court case.
'As we have said all along, any demonstrations that take place outside our grounds are a matter solely for local authorities,' club spokesman Glenn Greenspan said.
The sheriff's office has approved protest permits for eight groups.
Burk and Jackson plan to demonstrate against the all-male membership. 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, will support Augusta National's rights to private membership.
Another man wants to demonstrate in support of President Bush's war policy.
Then there's Deke Wiggins and his 'People Against Ridiculous Protests.' Their permit has been approved, too.
Scott Hoch, comfortably dry in the locker room as rain soaked the course Monday, wasn't concerned about what's going on outside.
'We're concerned with how we're going to play here,' he said.
The few players who hung around the clubhouse chatted about the rain, the course and the war in Iraq. On the big screen in the grill room, CNN was showing images of the war.
'We're thinking and worrying about our people in Iraq,' Hoch said. 'Even the golf tournament is minuscule compared to that.'
The sight of American troops under fire in Iraq has cast a somber tone on the tournament, Hoch said.
'This is just a game,' he said. 'Over there, they're playing for their lives.'
Woods, who will try to become the first player to win three straight Masters, did not show up Monday. Still, it was a good day for him because of all the rain.
The damp grass will make the course play even longer than its 7,290 yards, a big advantage for Woods and other big hitters.
Some fans milled outside the gates for hours before being told they would not be allowed inside. Masters officials said fans will be sent refunds in May and given preference to buy practice tickets for next year.
'We are disappointed that our patrons could not enjoy today's practice round,' Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson said. 'However, our first concern must be safety.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it
NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.
She says she always gets nervous starting a round.
You don’t believe it, though.
She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .
Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .
Or disarming ticking bombs . . .
“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.
Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.
Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.
Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.
At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.
She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.
She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.
And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.
There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.
Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.
It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.
Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.
Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.
“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”
About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.
Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.
“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”
David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.
“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”
Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.
Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . .
“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.
Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.
“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”
Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.
“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.
Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.
National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.
The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.
Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.
These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:
Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.
This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.
“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”
Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.
In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.
If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.
“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”
Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.
Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.
''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''
The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.
The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.
''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.
''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''
First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).
Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.
''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.
''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''