On a Major Papers Sports Page Dr Burk Names Her Enemies
Happily oblivious to the currents of the game, Burk, chief of the National Council of Womens Organization in Washington, D.C., cranked up her word processor, alerted the mailroom staff, and did nothing less than steal the sports headline in the nations No. 1 circulation daily newspaper from golfs premier cup matches. Above the fold.
Burk sent letters Sept. 27 to seven prominent members of Augusta National Golf Club, which she is trying to compel to admit women members after 70 years as a rampart in the fort of all-maleness.
(The letters went to Lloyd Ward, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee; Sandy Weill, CEO of Citigroup, until lately a Masters telecast sponsor; Rep. Amory Houghton (R-N.Y.); former Georgia senator Sam Nunn; Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express; William Harrison, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; and Christopher Galvin, CEO of Motorola.)
Here, from a letter to one of the CEOs, is an example of Dr. Burks bayonet:
Your willingness to accept an award next month from the Business Womens Network for your work fostering diversity would indicate that you value womens opinions. We are asking you for an on-the-record statement as to how you reconcile your company policies against discrimination, and your marketing practices to women, with your membership in Augusta National Golf Club.
Hootie has heart surgery. Martha goes right for the heart.
More newsworthy within the golf world than the letters was what accompanied the story about them in Fridays USA Today: A complete (says that paper) membership list for the club. Augusta National officials had no public comment on the letters or the list, but a source close to the club said that the home of the Masters is stunned that the list was published. Reticence about the details of membership, even the fact that someone is a member, has long been a hallmark of Augusta National. No one knows how USA Today got the names, but it is likely that a member, or someone in a members family, turned over a membership directory. A complete roster of members is not known to be published anywhere else.
Listing the names of people who have been generally accused of discrimination exposes some of the loftiest executives in America to the derision of a populist public. Many members of that public are not too high on CEOs right now, regardless of what their legal rights to association in private may be.
That is one of the reasons Dr. Burk is currently winning this battle. She quickly bypassed the legal issue by admitting that the kind of discrimination Augusta National practices ' that is, the kind that does not deny anyone a fundamental right such as housing, education, or access to other basic rights of all persons ' is not a legal wrong. She proceeded immediately to moral wrong, and those who stayed with her over that mental speed bump appear to want to ride out the issue to the end.
And if Dr. Burk can, as it appears, get the populist press on her side, it doesnt matter that her true breadth of public support remains unclear. Critics questioned from the start whether American women truly felt represented by Dr. Burk on this issue, or cared about it all. And indeed, e-mails and letters to various editors betrayed some shoulder-shrugging among some women. But others said, You go to the first tee, girl. Not even Rick Reillys justifiable question in his Sports Illustrated column about the obnoxious women-only golf club in Toronto could derail the train Dr. Burk has fired up.
Good inside authority supports the notion that before Dr. Burk began this public battle, private sentiment within the club was swinging toward admitting women. The primary source of the clubs consternation has not been the idea of admitting women, but the prospect of being dictated to. These are men who do not like to be told what to do, no matter how right it may be.
Bullheaded as some might think that to be, it is the crux of the issue. Equal rights and the human dignity they protect are vital, to be sure. So too are the privacy and association rights on which the club relies. The undeniable moral aspect of the issue requires that we decide once and for all whether the indignation we feel over racial exclusion should indeed extend to gender-based segregation, especially when it comes to discrimination over non-fundamental rights. Golf, through its most famous private club, will help decide whether there should even be any distinction between fundamental and non-fundamental rights. The decisions effects could reach much farther than we imagine now.
That complexity, plus the notion that a token female membership at Augusta will be only a symbolic victory that will not change the gender landscape at other exclusive clubs, makes it hard to take a side on this issue. I confess to being as conflicted as anyone. And I suspect that the columnists who have chosen one side of the fence on this are no less conflicted, just less honest.
But this much I do know: Talk softens issues that seem intractable. Lets hope that if some lesson comes out of this (and a lesson would be better than, say, picket lines on Washington Road, a pay-per-view Masters, or no Masters), it is that when letters change hands in the future, even ones with bayonets between the lines, the recipient will pick up the phone. One phone call, one meeting, might have led to some timetable compromise ' some situation in which were congratulating people instead of seeing which one is in the lead over the other.
What are your thoughts on Augusta National and Dr. Burk?
Van Paris' historic week at U.S. Am ends in Rd. of 32
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Standing to the left of the 16th green Thursday, Jackson Van Paris clasped his hands behind his head and grimaced as Mason Overstreet ended his historic week at Pebble Beach.
It was little consolation to him afterward, of course, but earlier this week Van Paris, 14, became the second-youngest competitor to win a match at the U.S. Amateur.
The only player younger? Bob Jones. In 1916.
“I learned that I can hang with all these players,” said Van Paris, who lost to Overstreet, 3 and 2, in the Round of 32. “I can play with these guys. I played with two of the best players in the field and hung with them for the majority of the matches.”
After qualifying for match play, Van Paris took Australian Dylan Perry – the 30th-ranked amateur in the world – the distance and then holed a chip shot on the final green to prevail, 1 up. His second-round opponent was no slouch, either: Overstreet, a junior at Arkansas, was the 2017 NCAA individual runner-up.
Overstreet is 6-foot-1 and sturdily built, and he took advantage of his lengthy by pounding it past the tall and skinny Van Paris. On the ninth hole, Overstreet caught the downslope in the fairway and had only a wedge into the green. With his body still developing, Van Paris maxes out at 270 yards off the tee. About 60 yards behind his opponent, he hit 5-iron into a firm green that had about a 10-foot circle to get it close. Overstreet made birdie, took a 2-up lead, went 3 under for his first 12 holes in windier conditions and easily won the match.
“Mason played great, and he’s a really good player,” Van Paris said, “but I felt like it was nothing I couldn’t handle.”
Those in junior golf circles know all about Van Paris, a rising sophomore who lives about five minutes from Pinehurst No. 2 and is already one of the top prospects in the Class of 2021. A two-time AJGA winner, he’s verbally committed to play college golf at Vanderbilt, alongside his friend Gordon Sargent, the beginning of what he hopes is a dream team during his four years in school.
The Commodores’ affable coach, Scott Limbaugh, the facilities and the team’s recent success were key factors in his early decision, but so were the academics. “I’d rather get a 99 on a test than top 10 in a tournament,” he said.
Tuesday was the first day of school at O’Neal High School, a college prep school in Southern Pines. Before his match, the students and teachers sent him a photo of them holding up a “Let’s Go, Jackson! Go Low!” sign in front of the school. Once Van Paris knocked out his first-round opponent, he was flooded with texts, emails and Snapchats. One note in particular stood out: The head of the school joked that Van Paris’ absences the rest of the week were unexcused.
Asked what he’ll tell his classmates when he returns to school, Van Paris said: “That I went to the coolest place in the U.S, played the coolest golf course in the country, played the biggest amateur tournament in the world and got 17th.”
His experience at the U.S. Amateur – where he competed against players who were at least four years older – was nothing new for Van Paris. He’s been playing up since he was 6.
“He’s always wanted to play against the best players he could find,” said Van Paris’ father, Todd. “But now that he’s old enough to play against his peers, it’s been a different dynamic – he’s not the underdog, he’s the favorite. It’s going to be an interesting transition.”
Todd Van Paris said that his son has grown about six inches and added about 40 yards over the past year. He’ll only pack on more muscle over the next few years, shortening the distance gap between him and players like Overstreet.
Van Paris’ goal Wednesday was to win both of his matches and reach the quarterfinals. Then he’d be fully exempt into next year’s U.S. Amateur … at Pinehurst No. 2, just down the street from his parents’ house.
“I know that he’s proud of what he’s accomplished this week,” Todd Van Paris said, “but I guarantee you that he thought he could win the tournament. He really thought he could do it. That’s what makes him special.”
After opening up, Lexi shoots 'comfortable' 68
Lexi Thompson looked at ease, smiling and laughing in a solid start in her return to the tour Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, where she felt the benefit of her month-long break.
“It was very relaxing out there,” Thompson said. “I felt very comfortable where my game was at. I just tried to go out and let my game show and not put too much pressure on myself.”
Thompson, 23, the defending champ, opened with a 4-under-par 68, four shots behind Angel Yin, the early leader. Thompson skipped the Ricoh Women’s British Open two weeks ago to take a “mental break” and address emotional struggles that built up through last year’s highs and lows.
In a news conference Wednesday, Thompson was candid sharing the challenges she has faced as a prodigy who has poured so much of herself into the game, and how she has recently sought the help of therapists in building a life that isn’t all about golf.
“I’m not just a robot out here,” Thompson said in heartfelt fashion in her news conference. “I need to have a life.”
Thompson said she took almost two weeks off without touching a club after her last start at the Marathon Classic.
After Thursday’s round, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz asked her about her decision to share her struggle.
“It was very hard for me to take the break, because I didn’t want to show that weakness, but at the same time it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge you need that kind of break, and to take time for yourself,” Thompson said. “Especially when you are in the spotlight like this, it can get hard, to just live your life for you, and figure out what makes you happy.”
Thompson is the highest ranked American in the world at No. 5 in the Rolex rankings. She was the Golf Writers Association of America female Player of the Year last season and also claimed the LPGA’s Vare Trophy for low scoring average, but it was still the toughest year of her career. She watched her mother battle cancer and dealt with the death of a grandmother. She also endured tough competitive blows, losing the ANA Inspiration after being hit with a controversial four-shot penalty in the final round. At year’s end, she lost out on a chance to ascend to world No. 1 and win the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year award after missing a short putt on the final hole in the season finale.
Snedeker joins 59 club at Wyndham
Brandt Snedeker opened the Wyndham Championship with an 11-under 59, becoming just the ninth player in PGA Tour history to card a sub-60 score in a tournament round.
Snedeker offered an excited fist pump after rolling in a 20-footer for birdie on the ninth hole at Sedgefield Country Club, his 18th hole of the day. It was Snedeker's 10th birdie on the round to go along with a hole-out eagle from 176 yards on No. 6 and gave him the first 59 on Tour since Adam Hadwin at last year's CareerBuilder Challenge.
Snedeker's round eclipsed the tournament and course record of 60 at Sedgefield, most recently shot by Si Woo Kim en route to victory two years ago. Amazingly, the round could have been even better: he opened with a bogey on No. 10 and missed a 6-footer for birdie on his 17th hole of the day.
Snedeker was still 1 over on the round before reeling off four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16, but he truly caught fire on the front nine where he shot an 8-under 27 that included five birdie putts from inside 6 feet.
Jim Furyk, who also shot 59, holds the 18-hole scoring record on Tour with a 58 in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship.
Snedeker told reporters this week that he was suffering from "kind of paralysis by analysis" at last week's PGA Championship, but he began to simplify things over the weekend when he shot 69-69 at Bellerive to tie for 42nd. Those changes paid off even moreso Thursday in Greensboro, where Snedeker earned his first career Tour win back in 2007 at nearby Forest Oaks.
"Felt like I kind of found something there for a few days and was able to put the ball where I wanted to and make some putts," Snedeker said. "And all of a sudden everything starts feeling a little bit better. So excited about that this week because the greens are so good."
Snedeker was hampered by injury at the end of 2017 and got off to a slow start this season. But his form has started to pick up over the summer, as he has recorded three top-10 finishes over his last seven starts highlighted by a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier. He entered the week 80th in the season-long points race and is in search of his first win since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.
Woods' caddie paid heckler $25 to go away
Tiger Woods is known for his ability to tune out hecklers while in the midst of a competitive round, but every now and then a fan is able to get under his skin - or, at least, his caddie's.
Joe LaCava has been on the bag for Woods since 2011, and on a recent appearance on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo" he shared a story of personally dispatching of an especially persistent heckler after dipping into his wallet earlier this month at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
According to LaCava, the fan was vocal throughout Woods' final round at Firestone Country Club, where he eventually tied for 31st. On the 14th hole, LaCava asked him to go watch another group, and the man agreed - under the condition that LaCava pony up with some cash.
"So he calls me a couple of names, and I go back and forth with the guy. And I said, 'Why don't you just leave?'" LaCava said. "And he goes, 'Well, if you give me $25 for the ticket that I bought today, I'll leave.' And I said, 'Here you go, here's $25.'"
But the apparent resolution was brief, as the heckler pocketed the cash but remained near the rope line. At that point, the exchange between LaCava and the fan became a bit more heated.
"I said, 'Look, pal, $25 is $25. You've got to head the other way,'" LaCava said. "So he starts to head the other way, goes 20 yards down the line, and he calls me a certain other swear word. So I run 20 yards back the other way. We’re going face-to-face with this guy and all of a sudden Tiger is looking for a yardage and I’m in it with this guy 20 yards down the line.”
Eventually an on-course police officer intervened, and the cash-grabbing fan was ultimately ejected. According to LaCava, Woods remained unaffected by the situation that played out a few yards away from him.
"He didn't have a problem," LaCava said. "And actually, I got a standing ovation for kicking the guy out of there."