Augusta National Golf Club is more than 800 miles away from in both distance and spirit.
But Monday’s announcement that the Georgia men’s only private golf club – home of the Masters – had admitted its first two female members set the golf world abuzz, including the fairways of public course Bethpage Black.
Reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson and former winner Zach Johnson each weighed in Tuesday at The Barclays Tournament in Farmingdale.
Watson heard the announcement was about to happen via text as he and wife, Angie, flew to New York.
“My wife said, ‘Do you think it’ll be me? Do you think they’ll announce me as a member?’” Watson told reporters. “So it was funny.”
Watson added: “Obviously she didn’t make the cut. Maybe she’s the third lady.”
While Watson tackled the question with humor, the closed-door policy toward women at Augusta has been a thorny issue since feminist Martha Burk began a campaign for inclusion in 2002. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, a South Carolina businesswoman, were named the 80-year-old club’s first female members.
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“In my opinion, based what I’ve read and what I’ve seen, the timing is right to have a couple of women members, so far, and hat’s off to them,” said Johnson, who won the Green Jacket in 2007. “If that’s their prerogative and that’s the direction they want to go, that’s fantastic.”
Watson used his powerful left-handed shot to win the Masters in a two-hole playoff with South African Louis Oosthuizen in April.
Just five months after his seismic victory, the Earth around Augusta shook again.
“It’s great for golf,” Watson said. “It’s great for the game.”
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