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Augusta National adds first 2 female members

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Augusta National adds first 2 female members

By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- For the first time in its 80-year history, Augusta National Golf Club has female members.

The home of the Masters, under increasing criticism the last decade because of its all-male membership, invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first women in green jackets when the club opens for a new season in October.

Both women accepted.

"This is a joyous occasion," Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said Monday.

The move likely ends a debate that intensified in 2002 when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations urged the club to include women among its members. Former club chairman Hootie Johnson stood his ground, even at the cost of losing Masters television sponsors for two years, when he famously said Augusta National might one day have a woman in a green jacket, "but not at the point of a bayonet."

The comment took on a life of its own, becoming either a slogan of the club's resolve not to give in to public pressure or a sign of its sexism, depending on which side of the debate was interpreting it.

Payne, who took over as chairman in 2006 when Johnson retired, said consideration for new members is deliberate and private, and that Rice and Moore were not treated differently from other new members. Even so, he took the rare step of announcing two of the latest members to join because of the historical significance.

"These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership," Payne said in a statement. "It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall. This is a significant and positive time in our club's history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family."

A person with knowledge of club operations said Rice and Moore first were considered as members five years ago. That would be four years after the 2003 Masters, when Burk's protest in a grass lot down the street from the club attracted only about 30 supporters, and one year after Payne became chairman.

Moore and Johnson are close friends, both with roots in South Carolina and banking, and the person said Payne and Johnson agreed on the timing of a female member. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the club typically does not discuss membership issues, said it was important to Payne to be respectful of the membership process. The person said prospective members often are not aware they are being considered.

Augusta National, which opened in December 1932 and did not have a black member until 1990, is believed to have about 300 members. While the club until now had no female members, women were allowed to play the golf course as guests, including on the Sunday before the Masters week began in April.

The issue of female membership never went away, however, and it resurfaced again this year after Virginia Rometty was appointed chief executive of IBM, one of the Masters' corporate sponsors. The previous four CEOs of Big Blue had all been Augusta National members, leading to speculation that the club would break at least one tradition -- membership for the top executive of IBM or a men-only club.

Rometty was seen at the Masters on the final day wearing a pink jacket, not a green one. She was not announced as one of the newest members.

Moore, 58, first rose to prominence in the 1980s with Chemical Bank, where she became the highest-paid woman in the banking industry. She is vice president of Rainwater, Inc., a private investment company founded by her husband, Richard Rainwater. She was the first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune Magazine, and she made a 25 million contribution to her alma mater, South Carolina, which renamed its business school after her.

Moore was mentioned as a possible Augusta National member during the height of the all-male membership debate in 2002. She and Johnson worked on South Carolina's 300 million capital campaign in the late 1990s.

"Augusta National has always captured my imagination, and is one of the most magically beautiful places anywhere in the world, as everyone gets to see during the Masters each April," Moore said. "I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life.

"Above all, Augusta National and the Masters Tournaments have always stood for excellence, and that is what is so important to me."

Rice, 57, was the national security adviser under former President George W. Bush and became secretary of state in his second term. The first black woman to be a Stanford provost in 1993, she now is a professor of political economy at Stanford's Graduate School of Business.

"I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity," Rice said in a statement released by the club. "I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf. I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world."

Rice recently was appointed to the U.S. Golf Association's nominating committee.

Johnson regarded the membership debate as infringing on the rights of a private club, even though every April it hosts the Masters, the most popular of the four major championships, which brings in millions of dollars through television rights for the highest-rated telecast in golf.

In a 2002 interview with The Associated Press, Johnson said the makeup of the club was more about four members-only parties each year than who plays the course.

"Our club has enjoyed a camaraderie and a closeness that's served us well for so long, that it makes it difficult for us to consider change," he said. "A woman may be a member of this club one day, but that is out in the future."

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Caps' Tom Wilson says he won't change his game after NHL suspension

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Caps' Tom Wilson says he won't change his game after NHL suspension

Tom Wilson doesn’t intend to change the way he plays, but the rugged Capitals winger says he'll be more cognizant of not being late on future hits.

Saturday, Wilson was suspended two preseason games by the NHL for a big hit on Blues’ prospect Robert Thomas that the league considered to be more than a second late.

Monday, Wilson spoke to reporters for the first time since the ban was announced.

“Every time you make a body check, you’re making a split-second decision,” Wilson said. “I take pride in the physical nature of my game. I take pride in my body checks. This is my fifth season, and I’ve made a lot of body checks — very clean, hard hits. So I trust myself. Maybe it was a second late or whatever, but I’m going learn from it and I’m going to continue to play my game, my hard-natured hockey.”

MORE CAPS: NHL 100 portrait of Alex Ovechkin revealed

As a result of the suspension, Wilson will miss Wednesday’s exhibition game against New Jersey and Friday’s contest at Carolina.

More important than the missed time, though, is the fact that he’ll be considered a repeat offender if and when the NHL examines a future play involving him that it deems questionable. The suspension is Wilson’s first, though he’s been fined twice previously.

“I’m not going to change too much about my game,” he said. “I’m going to continue to do my thing, try and play hard within the rules.”

The 23-year-old added: “I take pride in the clean, physical nature of my game. That goes on my record now and whether it comes up down the road or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s my first one and you never like that to happen. I’ll learn from it.”

Coach Barry Trotz said he and his staff were surprised by the suspension but said that he does not feel the need to speak to Wilson about it. Trotz added that Wilson often studies which hits the NHL considers borderline and which hits the league considers clean.

“I think he understands,” Trotz said. “We were all a little surprised he got a couple of games, but we’ll accept it. He’s got to adjust. It’s no different than a centerman adjusting to the new faceoff rules or [Alex Ovechkin] adjusting on the slash rule. They are smart players and they will adjust. Tom is a really smart man and a good pro.”

That said, Trotz does not want the suspension to have a chilling effect on Wilson’s hard-hitting style of play. Over the past two seasons, Wilson has been credited with the fourth most hits in the league (492).

“You don’t want to take all of his game away from him,” he said. “He’s one of the best at getting on people and getting the big hits and turning pucks over and getting people nervous because he’s coming in. He doesn’t want to take that all out of his game. He just wants to understand his parameters and what the league is calling and looking for. But he’s got a smaller window” now.

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Highlights from Wizards media day: Injury updates, new jersey numbers, Oubre's fashion line, Gortat's mohawk

Highlights from Wizards media day: Injury updates, new jersey numbers, Oubre's fashion line, Gortat's mohawk

It had been months since many of the Washington Wizards players spoke to the media to update the world on their summer and how they spent their offseason. So, there were plenty of questions to ask at media day on Monday and plenty of information for them to share.

There was a lot of stuff on President Donald Trump that can be found here. And we'll have more on Markieff Morris' absence in a separate post. But here is a rundown of the miscellaneous highlights from Wizards media day 2017...

Mahinmi had his meniscus repaired

Details about the procedure Ian Mahinmi had done earlier this offseason were finally revealed. Mahinmi had his left meniscus repaired, much like he did last October. The timing of this surgery was much better, of course, as it allowed Mahinmi to rehab the whole summer. He says he "drastically changed" his diet and has lost a considerable amount of weight. Mahinmi was so serious about it that he paid for his nutritionist and personal trainer to travel with him and his family. Among his travels included a stop at Disneyland for his daughters.

Oubre is starting a fashion line

Kelly Oubre, Jr. takes his personal style seriously and now has plans to start a clothing line called 'Dope Soul' that should be ready for release as early as 2018, depending on his contractual obligations with Adidas. Oubre already has the name tattooed on his arm and is excited to show the world what he has designed. On his personal style, Oubre had this to say:

"I style myself. I don't have a stylist. I take this very seriously. This fashion stuff is not a game. A lot of these dudes up here want to say their the freshest in the league. But they have a stylist and I'm just like 'how?' I do it myself. It's all organic. I really love to look nice and dress nice and be trendy. I have a lot of young fans that look up to me and want to see what I have on... I have my own brand that I'm trying to get off the ground... it's a community of young individuals who aspire to be great and are into all the hip stuff, but also who want to send the right message to help this world to be a better place."

Oubre also adjusted his shooting mechanics, moving his arm away from his line of sight so he can see the rim better when elevating.

[RELATED: WILL FRAZIER SOLVE BACKUP POINT GUARD FOR WIZARDS?]

Porter feels no pressure with new contract

When John Wall sat at the podium, he said he thought Otto Porter would have a lot of pressure alleviated after signing a max contract, which is perhaps contrary to what most would expect. Now that he is among the highest paid players in the NBA, there is less pressure for Porter? Well, Porter agrees wholeheartedly. 

"I definitely feel what he's talking about. That part is over. Now you can just go out there and have fun. I feel like that's what he did. He went out there, played and had fun and enjoyed the process."

Porter, by the way, was asked if he bought anything for himself after signing his $106 million deal. His response was pretty good:

"I didn't really buy anything for myself, a new house I guess. I got out of my small apartment."

Gortat's new... er... old hair

The mohawk is back and Marcin Gortat says it will be here for the rest of the season. Gortat, in fact, could end up doing a Dennis Rodman thing where he dies his hair different colors.

"I was just bored. I was bored and had too much time," Gortat said when asked why he brought it back. "I've gotta do something with the extra time before I leave the house and go to the court. I have to go to the bathroom and put the wax on it, spike it up. It's an extra hour a day, but it's alright... it will stay the same way, but I might throw some colors on it. I might go red, blonde maybe. I will do something crazy, maybe. But I've gotta stay with the mohawk for the whole season."

[RELATED: BEAL HAS HARSH WORDS FOR DONALD TRUMP]

New jersey numbers

There were plenty of new numbers passed around for media day following an offseason that saw the Wizards revamp their bench, add two players with the NBA's new two-way contracts and sign two more as training camp invites. Here are those numbers: Tim Frazier (8), Jodie Meeks (20), Mike Scott (30), Devin Robinson (7), Mike Young (4), Carrick Felix (21) and Donald Sloan (15).

Wall's goals are specific

When asked about the high expectations for the Wizards this year following the 2016-17 season, the best for the franchise in decades, Wall offered some specific goals. He said that similar to last year, the Wizards want to win more than 50 games and reach the Eastern Conference Finals. They fell just short of those things this spring. Head coach Scott Brooks said he thinks Wall "should be in the MVP conversation" this year.

Meeks and Frazier

The Wizards backup backcourt is already getting to know each other quite well. They have moved into the same building and live just a few floors away from each other. The two have already been spending time together off the court and have had some late night shooting sessions.

Chik-Fil-A promotion gets mixed reviews

Several Wizards were asked about the Chik-Fil-A promotion in the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena and the responses varied. Sure enough, all have noticed when the crowd goes nuts when the opponents are at the free throw line. Brooks, for one, doesn't mind it.

"I kind of like that. I wish we did it every quarter. I didn't know what was going on [the first time], but I loved it. It's exciting... I like the spicy chicken."

Beal likes the promotion, but only if the Wizards are winning.

"As long as we're winning, it's cool. But if we're losing, I hate it," he said with extra emphasis on the word 'hate.'

[RELATED: GET TO KNOW WIZARDS TRAINING CAMP INVITE CARRICK FELIX]

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