USOC Chief Hopes to Change Augusta
Lloyd Ward, one of a handful of black members at Augusta National, said he was 'committed to breaking down barriers which exclude women from membership at Augusta in the weeks and months ahead.''
Amid signs that some Augusta National members were backing away from the club's hard-line stance on the issue, the former president of Ford Motor Co. also said he thought there would be female members at the exclusive club that hosts the Masters golf tournament.
'I think there will be (a woman member) at some time in the future,'' Harold 'Red'' Poling said from his suburban Detroit home. 'I have a lot of faith in Hootie. Everyone would like to see issues such as this resolved.''
Ward made his comments in a letter to Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, which is spearheading the drive to include women among Augusta National's 300 members.
It was the first time Ward had commented on the issue since saying in April he would work behind the scenes to allow women into the club, and it was the strongest public statement in support of female members by any member yet.
'I am working with others who are members of Augusta National Golf Club who share the belief that the organization should include women in its membership ranks,'' Ward wrote. 'It is my intent to aggressively work for that reform.''
Club spokesman Glenn Greenspan said Augusta National would have no comment on the issue, likely to be a matter of hot debate when the club reopens later this month after a summer shutdown in Augusta, Ga.
Burk, though, said the fact that some members are now speaking publicly means the argument over female members will only grow louder.
'I applaud their leadership,'' Burk said. 'I believe others will join them and this will be resolved sooner rather than later.''
Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson, who is recovering from heart surgery, vowed in June that the club would not be 'bullied'' into admitting women as members.
Last month, Johnson dropped three TV sponsors from the 2003 Masters in an attempt to shield the club from further controversy.
Burk earlier wrote to more than 20 CEOs who are members of Augusta National, asking them to admit a woman. She received a reply last week from a representative of Citigroup chairman Sanford I. Weill expressing his guarded support for female members.
Ward's letter went beyond that, though, and seemed to confirm earlier reports by The New York Times that there is a group of members inside Augusta National pushing for the reform.
Ward is in a delicate position. He is not only one of a few black members at Augusta but also head of the U.S. Olympic organization that pushes strongly for equal rights in sports.
'He's been very reluctant to make any public statement before,'' Burk said. 'Maybe he was empowered by Sanford Weill's statement.''
Burk wasn't so happy about two other responses she received Monday from Augusta members. One came from Christopher B. Galvin, chief executive of Motorola, and the other from Rep. Amo Houghton, R-N.Y.
Both said in brief replies that they supported equal rights but that the matter was one for the club to discuss in private.
'It's absolutely astounding that a sitting congressman would have the gall to give the back of his hand to half of his constituents,'' Burk said.
Down seven pounds, Thomas can gain No. 1
AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.
In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.
“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”
Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.
After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”
Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana
PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.
Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.
''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''
Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.
A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.
''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''
The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Web.com Tour.
''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''
Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.
''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''
McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.
''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''
Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.
Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner
AUSTIN, Texas – Ian Poulter was not happy, and it was only partially because of his blowout loss to Kevin Kisner in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Following his morning victory in the round of 16 over Louis Oosthuizen, the Englishman was incorrectly informed that by making it to the Elite 8 at Austin Country Club he was assured enough Official World Golf Raking points to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters in two weeks.
“I should never listen to other people,” Poulter said following his 8-and-6 loss to Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals. “When you finish a round of golf and the press and everybody is telling you you're in the Masters, and then you get a text message 10 minutes before you tee off to correct everybody, to say, ‘Oh, we've made a mistake, actually, no, that was wrong, you're not in. You need to go and win.’
“Not that that's an excuse in any form or factor, it's a little disappointing.”
Poulter actually needed to advance to the semifinal round to move into the top 50. Instead, his last chance to qualify for the Masters is to win next week’s Houston Open, although he was unsure if he’d play the event.
“I don't know yet, I haven't decided,” said Poulter when asked if he’d play next week. “I'm tired. It's been a long week. It's been a draining week. I'll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy then I will.”
Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar
AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.
“I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”
By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.
“I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.
Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.