Augusta National admits its first two women

Augusta National admits its first two women

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- The home of the Masters now has green jackets for women. In a historic change at one of the world's most exclusive golf clubs, Augusta National invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first female members since the club was founded in 1932. "This is a joyous occasion," chairman Billy Payne said Monday. For some, it was a long time coming. Martha Burk and her women's advocacy group first challenged the club 10 years ago over its all-male membership. The debate returned this year when IBM, one of the top corporate sponsors of the Masters, appointed Virginia Rometty as its chief executive. The previous four CEOs of Big Blue had all been Augusta National members. The battle ended in typical style for Augusta National, with an understated announcement that left even Burk stunned. "Oh my God. We won," she blurted out when contacted by The Associated Press. Burk was not the first advocate to draw attention to women being left out, but it was an exchange with former chairman Hootie Johnson in 2002 that ignited the issue. Feeling as though the Augusta National was being bullied, Johnson stood his ground, even at the cost of cutting loose television sponsors for two years, when he famously said the club might one day ask a woman to join, "but that timetable will be ours and not at the point of a bayonet." The comment became either a slogan of the club's resolve not to yield to public pressure or a sign of sexism, depending on which side of the debate was interpreting it. Johnson, who retired as chairman in 2006, said Monday in a statement to The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., "This is wonderful news for Augusta National Golf Club and I could not be more pleased. Darla Moore is my good friend, and I know she and Condoleezza Rice will enjoy the Club as much as I have." Johnson and Moore have roots in South Carolina and banking, and they worked together on a 300 million capital campaign for the University of South Carolina. Rice recently was appointed to an influential U.S. Golf Association committee that nominates members to the executive board. 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." Tiger Woods, who knows Rice through a mutual connection to Stanford, applauded the move. "I think the decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf," Woods said. "The Club continues to demonstrate its commitment to impacting the game in positive ways. I would like to congratulate both new members, especially my friend Condi Rice." Jack Nicklaus, a six-time Masters champion and Augusta member, extended his welcome to the two women. "Everyone at Augusta National shares a similar passion for the game of golf, and I know they will be great additions to the club," Nicklaus said. 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. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the club keeps membership issues private, said Payne and Johnson agreed on the timing of a female member. The person said prospective members often are not aware they are being considered. The club does not say how much it costs to join or provide figures on annual dues. Augusta National is closed from the middle of May until the middle of October. "It's very exciting news, obviously," said Allison Greene, who formed a group in 2003 called Women Against Martha Burk. "Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore are outstanding and incredible role models for the community, and anything that puts women like that out there is always a good thing. Second of all, the fact that their membership came by the hand of Augusta National because they wanted to do it, not because they were forced to do it, is a good thing. I don't know any woman who would want to be a member of any kind of club because they were forced into membership." Burk maintains her initial letter to Johnson on June 12, 2002 -- and his defiant reply -- paved the way for Rice and Moore to become members a decade later. "It came sooner than I expected. I thought they were going to try to outlast me," Burk said. "And I really thought they would wait until the women's movement would get no credit. But if we had not done what we did, this would not have happened now." Augusta National, which opened in December 1932 and did not have a black member until 1990, is believed to have about 300 members. Before now, women were allowed to play the golf course as guests, including on the Sunday before the Masters week begins. The issue of female membership never entirely went away after Burk's campaign, and it resurfaced again this year with Rometty as IBM's new chief executive. 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. Most players at the Masters steered clear of the issue when it was raised, citing the private nature of the club. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem also tried to stay out of it. In some of his strongest comments, he said last May the Masters was "too important" for the tour not to recognize the tournament as an official part of the schedule. Finchem commended the club on Monday. "At a time when women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf, this sends a positive and inclusive message for our sport," Finchem said. Three-time Masters champion Gary Player tweeted, "Great news. Augusta National admits its first female members in 80 years: Condoleezza Rice & Darla Moore." "I think it's great," Tim Clark of South Africa said Monday after his runner-up finish in the Wyndham Championship. "Obviously it shows a sign of the times and like I say, Augusta's a place I love, love going there to play and love the tournament. So it's nice to see them do this now and kind of get everyone off their backs." 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, and she was the first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune Magazine, In 1998, Moore made an initial 25 million contribution to her alma mater, the University of South Carolina, which renamed its business school after her. She pledged an additional 45 million to the school in 2004. And last year, she pledged 5 million to the college for a new aerospace center. She also pledged 10 million to Clemson University in her father's name. "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." 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 AP, Johnson said the all-male nature of the club was important because of four annual parties for members only, instead of who gets to enjoy one of the most famous golf courses in the world. "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." The membership issue might now shift across the Atlantic to the British Open, which returns in 2013 to all-male Muirfield Golf Club.

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Best unrestricted free-agent shooting guards to help Wizards back up Bradley Beal

Best unrestricted free-agent shooting guards to help Wizards back up Bradley Beal

John Wall and Bradley Beal were uniform in their message about where the Wizards were lacking in 2016-17, and it was the backups in a 49-win season. 

In a Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics, the Wizards relied on Beal for 45 minutes and Wall, who shot 0-for-11 in tthe second half, for 44. 

Yesterday, it was point guards. Let's focus on the shooting guards behind Beal today. Coach Scott Brooks was in a bind with Marcus Thornton earlier in the season, who was an unreliable shooter and a loose cannon on defense. After a disastrous road trip to begin 2017, Thornton didn't play the next 21 games before being traded. Rookie Sheldon Mac (name legally changed from McClellan) had his moments but Brooks played him out of necessity. He didn't believe he was ready and often Mac was out of position such as going over the top of screens on non-shooters like Rajon Rondo.

None of the ball-handling point guards, Trey Burke and Brandon Jennings, were big enough to play the two spot. And the one player who was, 6-7 rookie Tomas Satoransky, was too raw and not a good enough shooter yet.

Brooks resorted to using forwards Bojan Bogdanovic and Otto Porter in small lineups in Beal's spot but ideally a true two-guard would occupy it. 

The Wizards don't have a lot of cap room so whoever they bring in has to be relatively affordable and willing to accept a backup role. If they require starters' minutes or money, they're not viable option with Beal firmly in place.  

Here are some options...

5. Ian Clark (Warriors): How much of what you see out of the fourth-year guard is because he plays on the best team in the West? He appeared in 77 games, averaged 15 minutes and 6.8 points while shooting 37.4% from three-point range. At 26, he's by far the youngest on this list and likely has the highest ceiling while the others have reached theirs. Clark earned just $1 million and his departure isn't going to make or break Golden State. What kind of player would he be if he played 22-24 minutes per game? It's all an educated guess and if he's available he's worth asking about because he could be the least expensive, too.

[RELATED: Top free agent point guards who could help Wizards, Wall]

4. Tony Allen (Grizzlies): Offensively, he's always a liability. The worst defenders on the opponent end up marking Allen who isn't strong off the dribble especially when having to change directions or pulling up. But he sure can defend, even at 35, and take on the toughest assignment every night. Allen doesn't need the ball to change the tone of a game and is content with getting his buckets off hustle plays and in transition. He played for $5 million though he had injury issues in averaging 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds. The 6-4 guard only shot 27.8% from three but 46.1% overall as he got most of his offensive going to the rim..

3. Tyreke Evans (Pelicans/Kings): Good size at 6-5 but not the most efficient shooter. Evans has been a point guard and can score, though the 2010 Rookie of the Year had a hefty $10.2 million pricetag. He hasn't won anywhere and posted averages of 10.1 points and just 40.5% overall shooting. He was a starter in his first seven NBA seasons before adapting to a sixth-man role. How much he'd cost and if he values starting or winning would be the key areas to figure out. He shoots jsut 30% from three for his career but has improved.

2. Kyle Korver (Hawks/Cavs): The 6-6 shooter averaged 10.1 points and shot 45.1% from three-point range even though he's slowing down as he usually has been an above-average defender. Still, at $5.2 million he could be a worthwhile commitment despite being 36. Korver can be a spot starter in the event of injury to a player such as Beal or give him a break on nights when he doesn't have it going. 

1. J.J. Redick (Clippers): Good size at 6-4, a fantastic shooter and worked tirelessly to make himself into a credible defender since turning pro 11 years ago. Redick made $7.3 million, averaging 15 points on 43% shooting from three-point range in 78 starts. Redick is lethal on catch-and-shoots. He made a career-high 47.5% from three a year ago. But he's 34 next month and will probably command a nice raise because shooters of his caliber are needed on every team worth its salt. Of course, a chance at a championship could convince him to take less or playing next to Wall might be incentive enough. Redick has been a starter since joining the Clippers in 2013 after being a reserve every season before that. 

[RELATED: Kevin Durant's legacy won't be secured with just one NBA title]

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Redskins Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension news

Redskins Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension news

Trent Murphy enjoyed the best season of his NFL career in 2016, delivering nine sacks for the Redskins. The excitement took a blow in the offseason, however, as the NFL suspended the former Stanford star for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Murphy will miss the first four games of the Redskins season, and the news devastated Murphy. 

"It was extremely disappointing to find out. It’s kind of like a gut-wrenching feeling," he said. "Took me by total surprise."

He spoke Wednesday for the first time since the suspension became official in April. With an early bye week for Washington, the four-game punishment will actually mean Murphy does not take the field for the Redskins until Week 6 against the 49ers.

A second-round pick in 2014, Murphy registered only six sacks his first two seasons in the NFL before last season's breakout performance. Six of his nine sacks came in the first seven weeks of 2016, and Murphy's production slid late in the year as he battled a serious foot injury. 

Without Murphy for the first month, the Redskins will lean heavily on Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. All three players logged more than 400 snaps last season in pass rushing situations, with Kerrigan going nearly 500 snaps. The team also added outside linebacker Ryan Anderson in the second round of the 2017 draft, he could push for playing time right away, especially with Murphy unable to suit up. If he remains healthy, Junior Galette could also be an option at edge pass rusher, though after missing the past two seasons the Redskins would be smart to limit his offseason work.

For Murphy, the time off will hurt but he will remain focused on football.

"I kind of moved on the only way I could, which was just to get back to work," he said. "The people that are closest with you know your character, know where you come from, they’ll always be by your side. My team has rallied around me, they’ve been very supportive so I’m just going to do the best I can to recover from this."

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