Judge Rules Discrimination in Dublin
District Court Judge Mary Collins ruled in favor of the government's Equality Authority, which argued that Portmarnock Golf Club was breaching a 2000 anti-discrimination law.
That law, the Equal Status Act, permits private clubs to restrict membership only if the club promotes an activity specific to a particular group. Collins ruled that golf is played equally by men and women, so no golf club in Ireland should be allowed to bar women.
'This is a landmark decision,'' said Equality Authority chief executive Niall Crowley. 'It sends out a message to wider society about the importance of including women.''
But the judge declined to specify any punishment for the club pending the outcome of another case in the High Court, Ireland's second-highest court, which is weighing whether the 2000 act is constitutional. Lawyers for the Portmarnock club argue it isn't. That case could take several months to be decided and could, in turn, be appealed by either side to the Supreme Court.
Portmarnock club manager Bruce Mitchell declined comment Friday. He previously has argued that the club doesn't discriminate because it does permit women and other nonmember visitors to play at specific times during the week. He said members had overwhelmingly opposed giving membership rights to women during three debates on the subject since 2000.
The National Women's Council of Ireland -- which, inspired by similar protests against the Augusta National Golf Club in the United States, filed a discrimination complaint with the Equality Authority in 2002 -- says the policy means female golfers have no voting rights at the club and aren't allowed to play at the best tee-off times.
If Portmarnock is eventually punished for its membership policy, the major sanction would be to withdraw its certificate of registration. This would prevent the club from selling alcoholic beverages in its clubhouse, initially for a 30-day period. But the club could react by offering its members drinks for free or allowing them to bring in their own beverages.
The wind-swept course, founded in 1894, is bounded on three sides by water and is considered one of Ireland's most challenging links courses. Its 18-hole championship course, designed by German pro Bernhard Langer, played host to the Irish Open for the 13th time last year.
Under current membership rules its only permitted female member is President Mary McAleese, the largely symbolic head of government.
One other internationally regarded Irish course, the Royal Dublin, also bars women as members but hasn't yet been subjected to any discrimination complaints.
Fiona Malley, a Progressive Democratic Party lawmaker in Ireland's coalition government, assailed Portmarnock as 'one of only a handful of dinosaur-like institutions left in this country.''
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Watch: Reed races in 40-footer to put away Spieth
Three up with three holes to play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Patrick Reed missed an opportunity to close out his match with Jordan Spieth when Spieth won the 16th hole with a birdie.
But Reed wouldn't let the match move to 18. Putting for birdie from the apron, 40 feet from the hole, at the par-3 17th, Reed raced in this putt to end the match.
With the win, Reed moved to 3-0-0 for the week and advanced to the weekend at Austin Country Club.
Garcia's win-win situation: Move on or baby time
AUSTIN, Texas – Given his status as one of Europe’s preeminent Ryder Cup players, Sergio Garcia’s record at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is nothing short of inexplicable.
In 15 starts at the event, the Spaniard has played the weekend just once – in 2010 when he lost in the semifinals to Ian Poulter – and since the event pivoted to round-robin play he’s never made it out of the group stages.
His fortunes have changed dramatically this year, with Garcia going undefeated in pool play and cruising to the Sweet 16 following a 3-and-1 victory over Xander Schauffele on Friday.
“I would love to have done a little better than I have,” said Garcia, who will play Kyle Stanley in the Round of 16 early Saturday. “I have had some good weeks here. But not probably as good as I should have. So hopefully this week it will be better.”
Garcia made no secret of the source of his turnaround following the birth of his first child last Wednesday, a girl named Azalea. Even on Friday when he found himself 2 down through 11 holes and in danger of not advancing he kept an upbeat attitude.
“The way I looked at it, when I was 2 down, we're going to try to turn it around, but if we don't, it means that I get to spend more time with [his wife] Angela and Azalea for the weekend,” Garcia said. “I tried to look at it in a good way.”
DeLaet: WGC's robin-robin format 'sucks'
Graham DeLaet isn't teeing it up at Austin Country Club this week because he didn't qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, but that doesn't mean he lacks an opinion on the event's format.
DeLaet hopped on social media Friday during Day 3 of the WGC-Match Play to torch the round-robin format that's been in place for three years, saying he much preferred the single elimination that was in place when he played in 2014.
"Played Match Play in Tucson in 2014. Early group on Wednesday, lost. Threw clubs in my car and was on my couch in Scottsdale by 2:00 pm. Collect 30K and spend the weekend at home, he tweeted. "That’s a good format. This one sucks."
Played Match Play in Tucson in 2014. Early group on Wednesday, lost. Threw clubs in my car and was on my couch in Scottsdale by 2:00 pm. Collect 30K and spend the weekend at home. That’s a good format. This one sucks.— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) March 23, 2018
DeLeat's comments may be the strongest to date, but he's not alone in his opposition to pool play. Several players lamented Friday's "meaningless" matches earlier this week, and Henrik Stenson cited the lack of a do-or-die atmosphere as his reason for skipping the event.
Watch: Kuchar makes ace at WGC-Dell Match Play
In his bid to advance to the weekend at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Matt Kuchar aced the par-3 seventh hole Friday at Austin Country Club.
With an 8-iron from 181 yards, Kuchar landed his ball short of the flag and watched it roll and roll ... and drop.
Golly gee Matty, let's raise the roof.— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) March 23, 2018
Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuch with a hole-in-one! pic.twitter.com/EnolkLxlqw
The hole-in-one moved Kuchar 3 Up in match against Ross Fisher.
The last hole-in-one at the Match Play came in Sunday's consolation match last year, when Hideto Tanihara aced the same hole before later losing to Bill Haas.