Payne welcomes change to Augusta
By Stephanie Wei under The Masters
Winning Payne

Winning Payne

Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne held court on Wednesday morning in his annual “State of the Masters” press conference. The event lacked the fireworks, awkward drama and antagonistic atmosphere that was prevalent last year when the media confronted Payne on the club’s hypocrisy — he preached about growing junior golf, while Augusta National passively discriminated against 51% of the population in the U.S.

Well, now, the club has two women members in Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore. 

Payne called their admittance a “joyous occasion” and described them as “great members.” He also said, “It’s been just awesome.”

The chairman announced more changes to come to the Masters — some of which will be implemented this year and some at next year’s event. (I know, they’re getting cray-cray over there at the old boy’s club! Your move, R&A.)

1.) The 36-hole cut will change from top 44 players and ties to top 50 and ties beginning this year.

2.) Invitations will be extended to the winners of the PGA Tour events in the fall, due to the new fall start schedule that begins this October.

3.) The Masters is scaling down on these three criteria qualification criteria, via ESPN.com’s Bob Harig:

 The top 12 (down from 16) from the Masters will earn invitations the following year; the top four (no longer the top eight) from the U.S. Open, which is in keeping with the Open Championship and PGA Championship; and removal of top 30 on the PGA Tour money list (the top 30 in FedEx Cup points earn an invitation).

Any objection out there? Personally, I wish the PGA Tour wasn’t pushing the whole FedExCup points thing versus the traditional money list — if not simply for simplicity’s sake.


(AP Photo/Morry Gash)