- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 4, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - The chairman of Augusta National repeatedly refused to discuss the issue of someday allowing a woman to become a member at the home of the Masters.

During his annual news conference Wednesday, Billy Payne held to the club’s traditional policy of not commenting on membership issues.

Asked to expand, Payne said: “Number one, we don’t talk about our private deliberations. Number two, we especially don’t talk about them when a named candidate is part of the question.”

He did not specifically say that new IBM chief executive Virginia Rometty was the “named candidate,” though the debate over women at Augusta has been reignited by her hiring at IBM in January.

IBM is a longtime corporate sponsor of the Masters. Its last four CEOs have been invited to be members.

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