Masters to Run Commercials in 2005
Martha Burk and her campaign against the all-male membership at Augusta National might not be too far behind.
Ending two years of a commercial-free broadcast at golf's highest-rated event, Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson said Friday three corporate sponsors -- ExxonMobil, SBC Communications and IBM -- will provide four minutes of commercials every hour in a telecast that has been extended 90 minutes.
Johnson dropped the previous TV sponsors two years ago when Burk and her National Council of Women's Organizations began to pressure companies, claiming their sponsorship was a veiled endorsement for sex discrimination.
All but forgotten at the last Masters, the new sponsors could give Burk's cause fresh legs.
'I'm shocked that any responsible company would want to be identified with the blatant sex discrimination practiced by Augusta National,' Burk said. 'Perhaps these companies think the controversy has gone away. It has not. It will not.'
Burk's protest of the 2003 Masters fizzled in a grassy lot a half-mile from the club, where her 40 supporters were dwarfed by media and police.
A federal appeals court ruled four months ago that Augusta, Ga., city officials should not have kept Burk from protesting outside the gates of the golf course.
Burk said it was too early to tell if she would return for the '05 Masters, but 'nothing is stopping us.'
The television sponsors at the Masters before the all-male membership became an issue were IBM, Coca-Cola and Citigroup. Spokesmen at Coca-Cola and Citigroup declined comment when asked if they had a chance to return.
'We're sponsoring a tournament,' ExxonMobil spokesman Lauren Kerr said. 'The Augusta membership is a decision for their board. But the Masters Tournament stands as one of the world's leading sporting events, and that's where our focus is.'
An SBC spokesman referred to a statement on its Web site that said it was a great opportunity, as one of only three television sponsors, to reach millions of viewers.
A spokesman for IBM did not immediately return calls seeking comment. IBM has assisted the Masters with scoring operations the last two decades.
Johnson had said the club could go on 'indefinitely' without TV advertising revenue. Still, Augusta National raised four-day ticket prices to last year's Masters from $125 to $175, and the Masters reaps revenue from merchandise sales and international TV rights. The Masters is broadcast in 190 countries.
In a release from the club, Johnson did not say why the Masters decided to return to television sponsors, only that the fans would be pleased with the additional TV coverage, and that the sponsors are leaders in their fields that 'will make a positive contribution to this tournament.'
The club said Johnson would have no further comment.
USA Network will add an additional 30 minutes of coverage the first two rounds (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT), while CBS Sports will add 30 minutes to its coverage of the third round (3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT). Coverage of the final round remains 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Phil Mickelson, who recently signed a deal with ExxonMobil to promote math and science education, is the defending champion after making an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win his first major.
While Augusta National does not have a membership policy, it has not had a female member in its 70-year history.
The debate over the all-male membership, and the separation between a private club and a public tournament, reached just about every corner imaginable in golf leading up to the 2003 Masters.
Burk asked the PGA Tour to no longer count the Masters as an official victory or official money. Newspaper editorials demanded that Johnson resign as club chairman and urged Tiger Woods to boycott the Masters.
It all started with letter Burk sent to Johnson on June 12, 2002, recommending that the club invite a woman to join so that it would not become an issue at the next Masters.
Johnson took that as a threat and fired off a three-page statement in which he said Augusta National would not be bullied or intimidated. In what became a slogan to the 10-month campaign, Johnson said the club might one day have a female member on its own timetable, 'not at the point of a bayonet.'
Burk launched her campaign by attacking television sponsors, which Johnson dismissed to keep them out of the fray, and CBS Sports, which said it would continue to broadcast the Masters. She later launched a Web site that included a 'Hall of Hypocrisy,' in which the NCWO listed corporations that claimed to have policies against sex discrimination, but whose CEOs were members at Augusta National.
Relatively quiet the last year, Burk said her campaign has not died, and that the new television sponsors can expect to hear from her organization.
'I think we'll probably get in touch with the three companies,' she said. 'It's a heck of a statement to make to their employees, customers and shareholders that gender discrimination is not serious.'
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.
Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.
Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.
Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed
40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick
60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson
80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.
Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.
Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.
There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.
There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.
Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”