Sports

Liguori: Rough Day For Course And Chairman At The Masters

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Augusta National Golf Club chairman William Porter Payne speaks at a press conference on April 4, 2012. (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Augusta National Golf Club chairman William Porter Payne speaks at a press conference on April 4, 2012. (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

By Ann Liguori
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The 76th Masters gets underway tomorrow morning with the threat of more bad weather. Strong rains and thunderstorms dumped 1.4 inches of rain on the course last night, delaying the opening of the course by 45 minutes for the final practice round. The rain softened the greens and fairways with more rain and thunderstorms in the forecast for Thursday and Friday.

Later on Wednesday at about 3:15 pm, more lightning and thunder hit the area. Officials cleared the course. The par three competition was cancelled before it was finished. Padraig Harrington and Jonathan Bryd were tied for the lead at five under and later declared the winners. A power surge hit the press room and some of the lights went out.

Meanwhile, Chairman Billy Payne addressed the media on Wednesday and was asked numerous times by various reporters, why a woman has never been invited to join Augusta National.

Chairman Payne repeatedly answered that they do not discuss membership issues. Excluding female members is a hot issue again this year, ten years after Martha Burk organized a protest outside the gates. The club traditionally extends an invitation for membership to IBM’s CEO. Now that IBM’s CEO is a woman, Virginia Rometty, the topic is hot again. But each time the question was asked of the Chairman, the only answer he could come up with was: “One, we don’t talk about our private deliberations. No. 2, we especially don’t talk about it when a named candidate is a part of the question.”

The questions will not go away. And the policy and lack of answers seem archaic.

Tiger Woods gets started at 10:35 on Thursday morning. It has been three years and ten months since he last won a Major — the 2008 US Open at Torre Pines.

Phil Mickelson is hoping to win his fourth Green Jacket. If he can play like he did when he won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in January, he could rekindle the magic here. Phil gets started at 1.53 — the last tee time of the day. He is paired with Hunter Mahan and Peter Hanson.

Rory McIlroy is ready to win his first Masters. The 22-year- old has erased the nightmarish memories of his back nine melt-down in last year’s final round. He admitted to crying on the phone when talking to his Mom, after that collapse, but two months later, his 8 stroke U.S. Open victory became his best therapy. Rory gets started Thursday at 1.42pm.

It could be Hunter Mahan’s time. His win last week at the Houston Open will help. He is the highest- ranked American at number four.

Luke Donald, the top- ranked player in the world, hopes to finally win his first Major.

Adam Scott and Jason Day, runners-up last year, hope to close the deal. Veterans KJ Choi and Lee Westwood could as well.

Any number of players can win this first Major of the year. It certainly promises to be an exciting one!

Be sure to catch Ann’s reports on WFAN with previews starting Wednesday. For more information on Ann, visit her web site at www.annliguori.com

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