Sports / Golf

First female champs won't herald Women's Masters

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-08 07:26

Augusta National, an all-male golf club until 20 months ago, crowned its first female champions on Sunday, but don't look for women wearing the green jackets of Masters winners anytime soon.

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said on Sunday a women's version of the Masters was not something the club was contemplating even after its historic gender milestone at the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship for children.

"Currently, no, I don't know that we have the energy, resources or time on our schedule," Payne said when asked about the possibility of hosting the world's best women's players at an Augusta National tournament.

Payne, the driving force behind organizing the 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympics, said adding the inaugural youth event was easy to factor in on the day before the first official practice round of Masters week.

"Adding a day when we were already here was relatively easy," Payne said.

It was only 20 months ago when Augusta National ended 80 years of men-only membership by admitting former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore.

Now Augusta National has more female role models to offer young golfers and young women in general.

"This is a life-changing experience for me to come out here," said Natalie Pietromonaco, the 12-13 age group girls winner.

Just last year the youth event was created by Augusta National, the PGA of America and US Golf Association to try and reverse declining interest in the sport, offering four boys and four girls trophies for youth ages 7-15.

"They are so invigorating, these kids," Payne said, calling the feeling they add to Augusta National "wholeheartedly powerful and emotionally exciting".

"We are going to have a lot of kids who want to find their way to Augusta National," Payne said.

Kelly Xu, a nine-year-old Chinese-American, won her age group crown to become the first female champion at Augusta National, complete with a putt on the 18th green after drive and chip contests on the same practice area used by the world's top male players for the Masters.

- Agence France-Presse

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