A Donna Quixote Takes on Augusta National
Her engaging southern drawl is the product of a childhood in Tyler, Texas, and years in and around Dallas. She is 59 years old and heavily decorated with the rewards of academic effort. The doctorate is a Ph.D. in political psychology; she got that from the University of Texas in 1974. She is licensed as a psychologist in Texas. She has been on the board of directors of the National Organization for Women (1988-1990). She is chair of the National Council of Womens Organizations and president of the Center for Advancement of Public Policy, both of which require her to be in Washington, D.C. a lot. She is a Democrat. She has two sons from her first marriage, which ended in divorce. She has since remarried.
By her own admission, she knows very little about golf, and has neither enthusiasm nor distaste for it. But she has a profound distaste for anything that she believes to be discrimination.
On June 12, Dr. Burk sent a letter to William W. Hootie Johnson, chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club. She urged him to have his club review its practice of not admitting women as members now, so that this is not an issue when the [Masters] tournament is staged next year.
Mr. Johnson, feeling the heat of threatened sponsor boycotts rising from the letter, issued a two-page statement in which he promised that whatever the clubs future agenda may be, the club will decide it and will not be browbeaten into someone elses schedule. It relied on the solidity of the law of private association in America.
Mr. Johnson and his board, sources say, considered their response long and hard, over a period of weeks. Even after that stretch of time, the response, while elegantly written, smoldered with the anger of indignation familiar to anyone who feels he has been unjustly interfered with.
There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership, the statement said, but that timetable will be ours and not at the point of a bayonet. We do not intend to be further distracted by this matter.
Martha Burk intends to mount a number of distractions, the clubs resolve notwithstanding. But does she understand that Johnsons statement put the ball back in her court? And whats next?
Yes, I do, Burk said from her Washington office July 11. We dont know when well hit it back. We want [our response] to be measured and well thought out. I need to confer with my board and some of the groups that have a high interest in the outcome here.
Thats an important point to recall about the National Council of Womens Organizations. Its an umbrella group of 160 organizations whose missions are related to the rights, welfare and advancement of women around the world. Whether the women in the member organizations consider the NCQO to be their representative in this matter remains to be seen. But so far, Dr. Burk isnt worried. Many supportive e-mails have come to her already, she says.
This is not going to go away, Dr. Burk said. Weve touched a chord in the press here, even more than I expected.
Mr. Johnsons response predicted everything from boycotts to t-shirts to bumper stickers, as well as Internet chat rooms, as possible components of a campaign for womens membership at Augusta.
He actually gave me a few ideas I hadnt thought of, Burk said.
All Dr. Burk will promise now is that the campaign will continue, even if she is not yet sure how. The next likely steps, she says, will be conversations with the chief executives of the companies that sponsor the Masters: Douglas N. Daft of Coca-Cola, Sandy Weill of Citigroup and Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. of IBM.
Augusta National does not reveal such matters, but sources close to the club or those companies claim that some or all of those CEOs may be members.
When this story broke, the question that burned with so many golf fans and reporters, and the one that Burk was prepared for, was this: As chief of an organization that champions womens rights in Afghanistan, monitors efforts toward equality in the workplace, and concerns itself with womens health the world over ' and thats just on a light day ' isnt discrimination at Augusta National a relatively small fish to fry?
A very small fish, yes, Dr. Burk said. Give me rights for Afghani women or memberships at Augusta and Ill take Afghanistan every time. But I think we can accomplish both.
When something like this comes up, women get mad, even if theyre not golfers. It reminds them of some other area in which theyre discriminated against, such as equal pay, or the glass ceiling, or difficulty getting hired. Men are proud of their daughters; they want them on equal footing with their sons.
Dr. Martha Burk has a new fish on the line, perhaps bigger than she thinks. But it appears she also has a devilish sense of humor.
A golf magazine is coming to photograph me Friday, she said, and I have the most lovely green jacket I plan to wear.
DJ, McIlroy, Spieth listed as PGA betting favorites
Three majors are in the books, but there's still one more trophy up for grabs in two weeks' time.
While next year The Open will signal the end of the 2019 major season amid a revamped calendar, this is the final year that the PGA Championship will be held in August. The tournament returns next month to Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis, which last hosted the PGA when Nick Price won in 1992 and hasn't hosted a PGA Tour event since Camilo Villegas won the 2008 BMW Championship.
Oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published PGA betting odds shortly after the final putt dropped at Carnoustie and Francesco Molinari left with the claret jug. Topping the board are a trio of major champions: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, all listed at 12/1.
McIlroy won the PGA in both 2012 and 2014, while Spieth needs only the Wanamaker Trophy to round out the career Grand Slam. Johnson has recorded four top-10s in the PGA, notably a T-5 finish at Whistling Straits in 2010 when a few grains of sand kept him out of a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.
Fresh off a T-6 finish in Scotland, Tiger Woods headlines the group listed at 16/1, behind only the three co-favorites as he looks to win a 15th career major.
Here's a look at the betting odds for a number of contenders, with the opening round of the PGA just 17 days away:
12/1: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth
16/1: Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler
18/1: Justin Rose
20/1: Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Jason Day
30/1: Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama
40/1: Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, Paul Casey
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar
60/1: Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson
80/1: Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner
100/1: Ian Poulter, Thomas Pieters, Tyrrell Hatton, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman
Molinari moves to No. 6 in world with Open win
After breaking through for his first career major title, Francesco Molinari reached some rarified air in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Rankings.
The Italian's two-shot win at Carnoustie moved him up nine spots to No. 6 in the world, not surprisingly a new career high. But it's also a quick ascent for Molinari, who has now won three of his last six worldwide starts and was ranked No. 33 in the world after missing the cut at The Players Championship two months ago.
A share of second place helped Xander Schauffele jump from No. 24 to No. 18 in the updated standings, while the same result meant Kevin Kisner went from No. 33 to No. 25. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy both went up one spot after T-2 finishes to No. 2 and No. 7, respectively - a new career high for Rose.
The drama in the rankings unfolded at No. 50, as Tiger Woods moved up 21 spots to exactly No. 50 following his T-6 finish. While some projections had him moving to 51st, Woods was able to sneak into the top 50 just in time to qualify for a return to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as the top 50 in the rankings both this week and next qualify for Akron.
That includes Zach Johnson, last year's runner-up who was not yet qualified but moved from No. 52 to No. 49 this week. It also includes Kevin Chappell, who went from 61st to 47th with a T-6 finish in Scotland.
Despite missing the cut at Carnoustie, Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for another week followed by Rose, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Molinari is now at No. 6, with McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day rounding out the top 10.
Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race
A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.
Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.
Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.
Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Bubba Watson
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Rickie Fowler
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Xander Schauffele
12. Matt Kuchar
13. Kevin Kisner
14. Tony Finau
15. Brian Harman
On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.
Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Francesco Molinari
2. Justin Rose
3. Tyrrell Hatton
4. Tommy Fleetwood
1. Jon Rahm
2. Alex Noren
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Paul Casey
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.