Finchem Pressured to Address Augusta in Speech
Martha Burk said Monday that Finchem is ducking the subject and suggested once again that tour sponsors might be the next target in her campaign to open the home of the Masters to women.
'It is wrong for Finchem to believe he can say, 'We don't have any control over Augusta,' and let it go at that,' said Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations. 'I think he has given it short shrift to say the least. His response is not acceptable to the public.'
Finchem's speech comes a few days before the U.S. Olympic Committee executive committee will debate CEO Lloyd Ward's membership at Augusta National, increasing the visibility of the issue even as the official golf season ends.
Finchem is scheduled to deliver his annual speech Wednesday at the season-ending TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola in Atlanta, a few hours' drive from Augusta, Ga.
Finchem's only response to the push for female members came in an August letter to Burk, in which he said the TOUR has no contract with Augusta National and no plans to change its relationship with the Masters tournament.
Tour pokesman Bob Combs said Monday that Finchem has nothing new to say.
'The commissioner has articulated the tour's policy, and we have nothing else to add,' Combs said.
One of the players who is on the tour's advisory board, however, said that Finchem should not hide from the issue.
'We can't fall behind the 'We don't sanction the event,'' stance,' said Brad Faxon, who has played in nine Masters.
Faxon also said he fears the controversy over admitting women to Augusta National could get even worse.
'There's three things that can happen,' Faxon said. 'They can allow a lady member and it goes away. They cannot allow one and suffer the consequences for another six months. Or they can cancel the tournament and say, 'The hell with the world. We'll go back to being our own private club.''
Burk said Finchem's earlier reply skirted the issue and was inadequate for both the public and the tour's sponsors. She said sponsors of PGA Tour events might be targeted if Finchem does not discuss the matter directly.
'I accept they don't have the power to change policies at Augusta,' Burk said. 'They do have control over recognizing the Masters tournament and counting the winnings for players. It has allowed them to create a double standard. Augusta enjoys the benefits of TOUR recognition without having to comply with the rules.'
Ward's membership at Augusta National will be on the agenda Friday when the USOC's executive committee meets in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Ward was the first member to say in April that he would work behind the scenes to admit a woman, and reiterated that stand this month. But there is grumbling within the USOC that he should leave the club.
'I believe the USOC has to answer the questions about this,' USOC president Marty Mankamyer said. 'I don't know what the answer will be.'
Mankamyer said it is doubtful that Ward, one of a handful of black Augusta National members, will be told to resign from the club. But she said the USOC will take a public stand.
'We feel we have a public trust,' she said. 'You keep seeing things in the newspaper, and people keep calling to see what your position is. The USOC executive committee will have a statement on its position in this.'
Anita DeFrantz, a member of the executive committee and the International Olympic Committee, said Ward's job is not at stake.
'I will not be a part of running the first African-American CEO out of town on the basis of diversity,' DeFrantz said.
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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.