- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

MARKHAM, Ontario The campaign for female members at Augusta National isn't getting much support from the PGA Tour, which will continue to treat the Masters as one of its official tournaments.

Players didn't rally behind the cause, either not if it means missing the Masters.

John Daly said yesterday at the Canadian Open that he is staunchly opposed to clubs that don't allow women. Then he was asked if he would consider standing up for his beliefs by sitting out the next Masters.

"I would not consider that," Daly said with no hesitation. "If I got into Augusta, I would play. It's a major. It's a tournament we dream as little kids of winning. Women protesting it shouldn't take it out on us for playing in it."

In a letter to the National Council of Women's Organizations, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said the tour has no contract with Augusta National and no plans to change its relationship with the Masters.

"It is recognized around the world as a major championship and is a significant part of the structure of professional golf," Finchem said in the Aug. 20 letter to NCWO chairwoman Martha Burk. "We have concluded that we must continue to recognize the Masters tournament as one of professional golf's major championships."

Burk said she was disappointed by Finchem's response, saying the tour was making a mockery of its own policy of not holding a tournament at clubs that discriminate.

While the PGA Tour does not run the Masters, Burk had urged the tour to stop recognizing it as an official event and not to count money a player earns at the Masters on the PGA Tour money list.

"That smacks of discrimination," Burk said. "They're creating a double standard."

Finchem was traveling this week and could not be reached for comment. Tour spokesman Bob Combs said the letter speaks for itself.

While Burk's next target is CBS Sports the NCWO board has approved sending the network a letter asking them not to televise the Masters she said she eventually would lobby the players to boycott the event.

Tiger Woods has said he would like to see female members at Augusta, but, "I'm only one voice and it's going to take a lot more than me, a women's group or the media for Augusta to change its policy."

Daly said any boycott would have to be led by Woods because "he's got so much power in the game right now."

"If Tiger was to say, 'I'm not going to play Augusta if they don't allow women,' then I'd side with Tiger," Daly said. "But it would have to be all the players. And that's not going to happen."

Hal Sutton, a member of the PGA Tour policy board, agreed that a boycott is unlikely.

"I don't think it's anything anyone has against women," he said. "If we had some say-so, like we ran the tournament, she might have a point. But we don't have any say-so. Who does have any say-so at Augusta?"

Club chairman Hootie Johnson makes all the decisions at Augusta, and he has stood firm since the friction began in June.

First, he declined in a short letter to Burk to discuss Augusta's membership policies, which have always been secret. Then he issued a scathing statement to the media that said while Augusta might one day have a female member, it would not be forced to do so "at the point of a bayonet."

On Friday, Johnson headed off any corporate controversy by dumping the Masters' three TV sponsors, leading to a commercial-free broadcast.

"I don't think they should broadcast it at all," Jesper Parnevik said. "When 100 million people don't get to watch the Masters, I wouldn't want to be that lady."

Along with targeting players, Burk said she might also talk to companies whose logos are carried by players on their hats, shirts and bags such as Buick (Tiger Woods), KPMG (Phil Mickelson) and Nike (Woods, David Duval).

"I think everyone would have to sit down and talk to their sponsors and figure out what's the best way to go," said Billy Andrade, who had an EMC logo on his shirt. "I don't think anyone wants to boycott the Masters."

Johnson has said Augusta National has no exclusionary policies, although it didn't have a black member until 1990 and hasn't had a female member in its 69-year history.

"If it was exclusive to men only and no women were allowed there, it might be more of an issue," former Masters champion Mark O'Meara said. "Women can play golf there."


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