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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Redskins preseason finale moved to Wednesday due to inclement weather

Redskins preseason finale moved to Wednesday due to inclement weather

The Redskins and Buccaneers are going to wrap up their preseason earlier than the other 30 teams in the NFL, thanks to some inclement weather that's heading toward Tampa Bay.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the matchup between the two NFC squads has been bumped up a day to try and avoid what looks like a lot of precipitation and winds in Florida, courtesy of Tropical Depression Nine

Washington sent out this tweet in response to the news:

"It has become apparent that the most severe weather associated with Tropical Depression Nine will likely make landfall on Thursday," said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford, according to the Bucs' website. "This decision was made by both teams in conjunction with the National Football League and local authorities in an effort to ensure the safety of our fans, players and stadium staff."

The exhibition finale is slated to start at 8 p.m. Redskins Kickoff will air on CSN at 7 p.m., with Redskins Extra following the matchup. 

Get ready for some Hump Day Football.

RELATED: JOSH DOCTSON APPEARS SET TO RETURN

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Orioles lose first game in crucial series to Toronto

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USA TODAY Sports

Orioles lose first game in crucial series to Toronto

BALTIMORE—The Orioles began this crucial three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays trailing the American League East leaders by three games. 

After Toronto’s 5-1 win over the Orioles before 15,532 at Oriole Park on Monday night, the Blue Jays (75-56) now lead the East by four games. That’s the biggest deficit of the year for the Orioles (71-60). 

School, which had already begun in many parts of Maryland earlier in the month, began in Baltimore on Monday, and a large crowd was not expected, even for a big game. 

The crowd was actually the smallest since the Orioles and Kansas City Royals drew 14,878 on June 6. 

Many of those who were on hand were Blue Jays fans who had much to cheer about. 

Marco Estrada (8-6) allowed just one run on J.J. Hardy’s third inning home run and four hits in seven-plus innings. It was Hardy’s eighth home run of the year. Estrada exited after Hardy led off the eighth with a single. 

“I don’t think it’s just tonight. We’ve had trouble with him for a while. He locates his pitches, kind of right on the top. His fastball is sneaky. He can elevate it. He can pitch down with it, and his changeup is a really tough pitch,” Hardy said. 

Manager Buck Showalter observed just before the All-Star Game how impressed he was with Estrada, who was named to the AL All-Star team, but unable to participate because of back soreness.

“He’s one of those guys, he’s been doing it for two years, really. He’s one of those guys you know what he’s going to do and he’s still able to do it,” Showalter said.

The lead was short lived as Josh Donaldson, the first Blue Jay to reach base after Wade Miley retired the first 10, homered. It was Donaldson’s 34th of the season. 

Troy Tulowitzi singled later in the inning to drive in Edwin Encarnacion for a 2-1 lead. 

Jose Bautista hit his 16th home run to begin the sixth. 

Miley (8-11) had five 1-2-3 innings, and allowed three runs on five hits in the other two innings. 

“Wade was good. Mixed in a lot of different looks and gave us a good chance. A good seventh inning to get one more inning out of him,” Showalter said. “He had a real good chance to win the game. We just didn’t do much against Estrada,” Showalter said. 

Miley, who works more quickly than any other starter in the majors, walked two and struck out nine, six of them called. 

He was helped out in the first inning when Nolan Reimold, playing center field in place of the ailing Adam Jones, ran down Donaldson’s long fly, crashed into the wall and fell, but quickly go up. 

“I felt like I threw the ball a lot better. Had a lot better command of my fastball. Made a couple of mistakes to Donaldson. Both the first at-bat and the second at-bat. I got lucky on the first one. Reimold made a great play out there. The second one, I just didn’t locate the fastball,” Miley said. 

“I think the umpire had a good strike zone. Maybe a little more pitcher friendly. But he was consistent on both sides. He was great. Obviously it’s a great lineup over there. You don’t really get a lot of breaks, just got to make some pitches.” 

Jones has missed three games because of a strained left hamstring, and he’s nearly ready to return. Jonathan Schoop batted leadoff for the first time in his career, and was hitless in four at-bats. 

Joe Biagini relieved Estrada after Hardy’s single, and retired all three batters he faced. 

Toronto added two runs in the ninth off Tommy Hunter, pitching in Baltimore for the first time since July 30, 2015. Justin Smoak’s RBI single and Devon Travis’ infield out scored the runs. 

Joaquin Benoit retired all three batters he faced in the ninth.

Two weeks ago, the Orioles were tied for the AL East lead, but since then they’ve lost nine of 14 and four games in the standings. 

“Obviously these games are important, but we’ve just got to go out there and not put too much pressure on ourselves. They’re big games, but we’re just going to go out there and try to win,” Hardy said. 

“I know everyone in this clubhouse knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we’re not going to give up. We’re going to go out there every single night trying to win, and that’s what we’ve got to do.” 

NOTES: Neil Berry, believed to be the oldest living Oriole, died last Wednesday at 94. Berry played five games for the first Orioles team in 1954. … J.A. Happ (17-4, 3.19) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (5-11, 6.62) on Tuesday night. 

MORE ORIOLES: ADAM JONES HAS LEARNED TO TAKE CARE OF INJURIES

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Tanner Roark and Jayson Werth lead Nationals past Phillies 4-0

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USA Today Sports

Tanner Roark and Jayson Werth lead Nationals past Phillies 4-0

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Tanner Roark threw seven impressive innings, Jayson Werth hit a solo homer and the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-0 on Monday night.

Roark (14-7) allowed four singles and struck out five. Marc Rzepczynski tossed a perfect eighth and Mark Melancon finished off the four-hitter.

Phillies rookie Jake Thompson (1-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings. It was the longest and best of his five career starts.

Werth lined a solo shot to left in the first against his former team. A member of Philadelphia's 2008 World Series championship team, Werth was greeted by boos, as usual.

Bryce Harper raced home from first on Anthony Rendon's single to left-center to make it 2-0 in the first. Clint Robinson and Trea Turner had RBI singles off Frank Herrmann in the ninth.

Thompson settled in nicely after a rough start. His last pitch was a nasty curve that froze Turner for strike three.

Roark didn't need much support. The righty stifled the Phillies again. He's 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA against them this season.

The NL East-leading Nationals snapped a two-game losing streak.

RELATED: NATS MAKE TWO ROSTER MOVES