Masters champs split on LPGA event at Augusta National
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan has made no secret of his ambition to bring an LPGA event to Augusta National, but Masters champions were divided about the idea, according to a Golf.com poll of former Masters champions.
Those opposed to an LPGA event at Augusta said that playing more than one tournament on the game’s most storied course would ruin the aura the course has held since the days of Bobby Jones, while supporters said that an LPGA at Augusta would be great for the club and women's golf.
A Golf.com poll of nine former Masters champion found that four opposed an LPGA event at Augusta National, three supported it, two didn't know, and one had no comment.
“Anything like that would take away from the greatest tournament that is played each year,” Billy Casper said.
But Casper, the 1970 Masters champion, doesn’t think the ladies should be left out of the a LPGA Masters altogether. He just doesn’t believe it should be held at Augusta National.
“It would lose its prestige,” Casper said.
Four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer shares the same sentiment.
“I think that’s a separate situation,” Palmer said. “I don’t think that should be a part of the Masters.”
For 1976 champions Ray Floyd, having more than one event at Augusta would diminish what's special about the Masters.
“I personally don’t see it happened and I hope it doesn’t,” Floyd said. “There’s an aura and mystique like no other. You start having multiple events, and it’s gone.”
But some Masters champions agree with Whan and want to see Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer tee it up at Augusta National, including three-time Masters champions Gary Player.
“I have always felt that having a Women's Masters, not a U.S. Women’s Open, would be fantastic, as well as a Masters on the Champions Tour,” said Player. “Those additions would be very special to go with and mirror the other Grand Slam events on both the LPGA as well as Senior Tour.”
Bernhard Langer ('85 and '93) spoke in favor of an event for women at Augusta.
"Why not?" Langer said. "It would be interesting to see the ladies playing there."
1991 champion Ian Woosnam agreed.
"I think that would be a great thing for both Augusta National and women's golf generally," Woosnam said.
Two current players said they had neither heard of a proposed all-women’s tournament at Augusta nor hadn’t given it much thought.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of that,” said 2008 champ Trevor Immelman. “I guess that will be like that anchored putting thing. You’re going to have guys on both sides, ladies on both sides of that one, administrators on both sides of that one. I’m not too sure how to answer. I will say, one of the things that is so special about Augusta is the mystique of it and the history. I’m not sure if that will affect it or not. I can’t say if I’m for or against it or not. I don’t know.”
Said 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel, “That’s something I’ve never really thought about, so you’ll have to ask me again in a few more years. I’m sure that if Augusta National thinks it’s appropriate to have a LPGA event there then they will.”
Sounds like these guys will have a lot to talk about at the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night.
Photo: Paula Creamer watches the second round of the 2011 Masters (Getty Images).