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."

Capitals weigh in on Letang's hit on Johansson

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Capitals weigh in on Letang's hit on Johansson

The question the NHL Department of Player Safety will need to answer on Tuesday is not whether Penguins defenseman Kris Letang should be suspended for his open-ice check to the head of Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson, but for how long.

The Capitals have a number in mind and it’s the same number of games defenseman Brooks Orpik is being forced to sit out for his headshot on Pens defenseman Olli Maatta – three games.

“Yeah, I’d say so,” Johansson said after the Caps’ 3-2 loss in Game 3 left them trailing the series two games to one. 

“I hope the league is gonna respond,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. “We’ll see.

“If it’s fair maybe he gets three games or something. I don’t know. It’s not my call. It’s not our call. Our job is to think about next game.”

RELATED: Caps flurry falls short in 3-2 Game 3 loss

Letang’s hit on Johansson came with 4:19 remaining in the first period. Johansson streaked across the blue line and dished the puck less than a second before Letang drove his shoulder into Johansson’s head.    

“I didn’t see him coming,” Johansson said. “He came from the blind side. I just looked at (a replay). He obviously leaves his feet and hits me in the head. I mean, it’s the kind of play you want out of the league. It doesn’t look good.”

Said Letang: “I saw him coming full speed. I tried to step up in the middle. It was just a step-up to hit him, no intention (to injure). Things happen fast in the game. It was a fast play.”

Johansson was slow to get to his feet and retreated to the dressing room for concussion testing. He returned to play the final two periods and finished with 18:20 of ice time. 

“I’m having some issues with my neck right now,” he said. “I got hit in the head and got a little whiplash, I think.”

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 21 of 23 shots in the loss, had this to say about what may lie ahead for Letang, who leads the Penguins and ranks sixth in the NHL with an average ice time of 29:13 a game.  

“Hopefully, they treat everyone the same,” Holtby said. “That’s all I can say.” 

Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who earlier in the day wondered if Orpik’s suspension would be as long if the Caps were facing another opponent, said he will let the Depaertment of Player Safety handle any supplementary discipline.   

“Where he hits him, he’s vulnerable,” Trotz said. “Let the league handle it. I just get myself in trouble if I say anything more.  I don’t know if there’s a standard. I think they’re looking for protocols and certain situations. They set a little bit of a standard (with Orpik), so we’ll see.”

MORE CAPITALS: Johansson walks through 'blindside' Game 3 hit from Letang

Patrick Ewing in mix for Sacramento Kings coaching job

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Patrick Ewing in mix for Sacramento Kings coaching job

Unlike the Washington Wizards' laser focused head coaching search, the Sacramento Kings are playing the field.

One of the NBA's most dysfunctional franchises is in the process of interviewing several candidates for the head coaching job now open since George Karl's departure.

Some of the names are familiar with regards to such openings. One of the names is the most famous of the bunch, but new-ish to such discussions.

That would be Patrick Ewing, currently an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets.

You may remember Ewing from his Hall of Fame playing career with Georgetown on the college level and primarily the New York Knicks in the pros. The "remember" part is obviously an attempt at humor because Ewing is one of the most inconic players of all-time. Yet despite his on-court prowess, despite paying his dues for years as an assistant -- four teams over 13 seasons - he hasn't landed a coveted head coaching job. 

Ewing spent the last three seasons as an associate head coach with the Hornets, who were knocked out the playoffs with a Game 7 loss at the Miami Heat. 

Who knows what Sacramento truly desires in a head coach these days.

What's clear is that any new hire must figure out a way to deal with talented, but frustrating center DeMarcus Cousins. An All-Star big man, Cousins has the skill set of an elite player, but the attitude of a perennial malcontent. 

Other candidates mentioned above and some others not like for Kings forward Carliss Williamson, are interesting. If the goal is to find someone who can literally look the 6-foot-10 Cousins in the eye while providing true guidance, the line should start and likely end with the imposing Ewing. 

Sacramento hasn't made the playoffs since 2006 and yet the current vintage might be the most LOL part of the last decade.

From ownership on down, nobody can seemingly get the franchise out of the ditch. This job won't be easy for coach, especially one without any previous head coaching experience. Yet the circumstances are interesting for a coach with Ewing's resume.

If he truly wants, here's hoping he at least gets a long look. 

Nationals keep rolling against Royals, win fourth straight

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Nationals keep rolling against Royals, win fourth straight

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 2-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium: 

How it happened: After getting swept by the Phillies to close their most recent homestand, Nationals manager Dusty Baker called this Midwest road trip a good barometer for where they stand in the early part of this season. He, and many of his players, saw this road swing as a test, knowing they had yet to face one of baseball's best teams.

Four days later and the bar may need to be raised a little higher for these Nationals, as after sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis, they opened their series at the defending champion Kansas City Royals with a convincing 2-0 victory on Monday night. Their brand of score early and let their pitching staff take it from there worked wonders once again.

Gio Gonzalez continued his career-best start to a season with six scoreless frames, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy notched first-inning RBI and the Nats' bullpen held on to push the Nats to club record 18-7 on the season through 25 games.

What it means: The 'they haven't beaten anyone' knock on the 2016 Nats can officially be put to rest. The Nationals are now 4-0 on this road trip, having first swept a 100-win team from a year ago in the Cardinals, to now opening this series against the reigning champs with a win. 

Gio keeps on rolling: Gonzalez battled a high pitch count early, but recovered to give the Nats six scoreless innings on four hits and two walks. Gio now has a 1.15 ERA through five starts this season, going at least six innings in each of those outings. The Nats rotation as a whole has held a 0.92 mark with 34 strikeouts and 10 walks in their last six starts as a group. 

Zim comes up big: Zimmerman has been in quite the skid lately, finishing the month of April hitting .219/.301/.301 with just one hit in his last four games (13 ABs). Zimmerman had been showing positive signs, including the highest average exit velocity on the Nats through the weekend. And on Monday, he came through with a big hit in the first inning, an RBI double to right field to give the Nats an early lead. It was Zim's first RBI since April 26. The Nats have now scored 32 of their 101 total runs this season in the first inning. Zimmerman also smacked a ground-rule double in the ninth inning for just his fourth multi-hit game in 20 games this season.

Harper finally gets a hit: Harper's slump recent slump continued through his first two plate appearances on Monday, as Harper struck out and flew out to make it 16 at-bats without a hit dating back to last Thursday. Harper would finally get one, though, on a bloop single to left field to lead off the top of the sixth inning. Harper broke his slump, but he was quickly thrown out trying to steal second by Royals catcher Lorenzo Cain. He also now has only two hits in his last six games.

Murphy gets No. 1000: Murphy had another solid day at the plate on Monday with three hits and an RBI on a groundout in the first inning. His second hit was No. 1000 for his career. It was a double to center field in the sixth inning and it gave Murphy his 12th multi-hit game in 24 total appearances this season. Only three times this year has he been held hitless. Murphy, by the way, is the 10th player ever to record their 1000th career hit in a Nats uniform. Denard Span was the last in September of 2014.

Up next: The Nats continue their series at the Royals with another 8:15 p.m. start on Tuesday night. Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.03) and former Nats minor leaguer Chris Young (1-4, 6.12) are the starters.