Court Rulings Highlight Masters First Day
In two separate rulings Monday, a federal judge turned down Martha Burk's request to protest outside the front gate of Augusta National Golf Club. She wants the club to admit its first female member.
Meanwhile, heavy thunderstorms forced the club to postpone a valuable day of practice for the tournament, which begins Thursday. The gates never opened to fans, either, the first time that's happened during Masters week since 1983.
Rich Beem, winner of the PGA Championship, was eager to play the course after qualifying for his first Masters. His day ended after about a half-hour on the soggy practice range.
'I wanted to get out early,' Beem said. 'It's frustrating, but that's how it goes.'
Burk is planning to protest Augusta National's all-male membership during the third round of the tournament Saturday.
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.
But Sheriff Ronald Strength, who has broad authority over public protests, told Burk and other groups the only place they can protest legally is a 5.1-acre site nearly a half-mile from the gate.
Strength said there's too much traffic along Washington Road, which runs in front of the club, to ensure safe protests.
ACLU lawyers challenged the ordinance, saying it gives the sheriff too much power to approve or deny protests and dictate their location.
U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. sided with the city.
'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.'
'Obviously, we're disappointed with the ruling,' said Gerry Weber, legal director of Georgia ACLU, which filed the suit on Burk's behalf.
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 nine groups.
Burk and the Rev. Jesse 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, wasn't concerned about what's going on outside the course.
'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 pall over the Masters, 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.
'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.'
More rain was forecast Tuesday.
Masters officials said fans will be sent refunds in May for their unused tickets and given preference to buy practice tickets for next year.
CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:
|T20||Charles Howell III||-14||$57,754|
|T36||Tyrone Van Aswegen||-12||$27,189|
|T69||Billy Hurley III||-6||$11,623|
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...
Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).
Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.
It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard
On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...
There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.
He sure looks like the real deal, though.
His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.
Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.
He picked up one more No. 2, too.
The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.
In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.
Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.
“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.
Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.
He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.
His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.
“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.
Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.