AUGUSTA, Ga. — Augusta National went nearly 80 years before having female members. Now the club is inviting its first female competitors.

The Augusta National Women’s Amateur begins next year, a 54-hole event for top amateurs from around the world, who will become the first women to play a tournament at the home of the Masters.

Fred Ridley, who took over as club chairman in October, said the new tournament will expand Augusta National’s goal to inspire young people, following in the footprint of the Asia-Pacific Amateur, the Latin America Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt competition for children.

He said the Augusta National Women’s Amateur was for a “segment of our sport that is … vital to the future of golf.”

Women have long played at Augusta National, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2012 that the club invited its first women as members – former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore. The latest member is former USGA president Diana Murphy.

“I’ve said many times that our country is a story of our great institutions evolving and becoming more inclusive over time,” Rice said. “This is one of the great institutions, not just American institutions but international institutions, so it’s evolved and it’s become more inclusive, and that’s very exciting.”


Ridley said the opening two rounds would be held at Champions Retreat in Augusta, with the final round moving to Augusta National on Saturday, April 9, extending the week at the Masters. The finals of the Drive, Chip and Putt would be on Sunday, followed by practice rounds for the Masters.

TONY FINAU injured his left ankle celebrating a hole-in-one during Wednesday’s Par-3 Tournament at Augusta National and then seemingly popped it back into place.

Finau flew his ball to the back of the seventh green on the par-3 course and spun it back into the hole for an ace. He started running toward the hole to celebrate, then turned and backpedaled before landing awkwardly on the ankle. He dropped to a knee and ended up pushing the joint back into place.

Finau, ranked No. 34 in the world, ended up withdrawing from the event.

Tom Watson won the exhibition at 6-under, one shot better than Tommy Fleetwood and Thomas Pieters. Jack Nicklaus’ grandson, who was caddying for the six-time Masters winner, made a hole-in-one at No. 9.

TIGER WOODS fit in fine Wednesday in a curious practice round pairing with the 58-year-old Fred Couples and Matt Parziale, the amateur golfer and professional firefighter who squeezes in amateur tournaments between shifts at the firehouse in Brockton, Massachusetts. Parziale won the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship to get a spot in the Masters at the age of 30.

Woods complimented Parziale’s game, and said nice things to a Masters representative about his caddie father after the round.

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