Ladies Tours

US Masters: Annika Sorenstam joins Augusta National

Augusta National Golf Club was founded in 1932 as a men-only club and has hosted the prestigious US Masters tournament since 1934. Augusta National is considered one of the most elite clubs in the world with only about 300 members. Among them are personalities from the world’s wealthiest and most powerful businessmen. Women have only been admitted as members since 2012.

Annika Sorenstam becomes first female professional player to join US Masters venue

Multiple sources reported this week that Annika Sorenstam, a 72-time winner on the LPGA Tour, has been accepted as a member at Augusta National Golf Club. However, a spokesman for Augusta National Golf Club declined to comment, and Mike McGee, Sorenstam’s husband and manager, also declined to comment. Membership in Augusta National Golf Club has traditionally been considered a private matter, and the club has always sought to keep its membership list private.

Twenty years ago, women’s activist Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations protested the lack of women members at Augusta National. Nearly a decade passed before Augusta National’s then-chairman Billy Payne added former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to the club in 2012. Other confirmed female members at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia include Heidi Ueberroth, co-chairwoman of Pebble Beach Co; former USGA President Diana Murphy; former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; and Ana Botin, executive chairwoman of Santander Group. Golf legend Annika Sorenstam is now the first professional player to be inducted as a member of the country’s most prestigious golf club. Sorenstam has been a trailblazer for women’s golf. She has collected a total of 10 Major titles during her unique career. In 2008, she became the first woman to compete in a PGA Tour event since 1945 when she competed in the tournament then known as the Bank of America Colonial. When Augusta National Golf Club introduced the Augusta Women’s National Amateur in 2019, Sorenstam was one of the first starters.

“I wish we had done it sooner”

A decade after the first female members were admitted, Fred Ridley, the current club chairman, reflected on that decision during his pre-tournament press conference at the Masters. “I don’t know about you, but when anything happens or any idea that you had turns out well and you’re pleased about it, initiative, whatever, you might always say, well, why didn’t we do that sooner?  And that’s a fair, that’s a fair thought. And so I wish – I wish we had have,” he said.

He added: “Women members are a very important part of our membership, and you will continue to see over the years, if you look, more green jackets that are women. I’m going to make sure of that.

“We have a number of women members who we are delighted are part of our organization. I think you know, certainly, who some of them are. They have been great contributors to our organization, both I would say substantively and things they are doing to help us, both with the Masters and otherwise.”

Highlights Tours

US Masters 2022: Paul Casey withdraws just before tee time

Paul Casey had to withdraw from the tournament shortly before his tee time for the first round of the US Masters 2022 due to an injury. He would have started at 4:53pm alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Players champion Cameron Smith and withdrew just minutes before. This means Casey, who is one of the best players without a win in one of the four major tournaments, will miss out on a chance to win one of the big titles. At already 44 years old, the Englishman is running out of time to hit the big time. On the Wednesday before the Masters, he still took part in the par-3 contest with his family.

Paul Casey already injured before the US Masters 2022?

Already at the end of March at the WGC Dell Match Play, Casey had to concede his first match after two holes due to back problems. He then did not play in any of the other matches. All three matches of the group phase were scored for his opponents. Nevertheless, he received 40,000 euros in prize money as the last player in the group. “The pain I feel is in my lower back, on the left side, it’s like a cramp,” Casey explained at the time. According to the physiotherapist, it is the gluteal muscle.

“The back issues are persistent and thus preventing me from being able to compete. I shall now focus on my treatment and recovery so I can return to competitive form as soon as possible,” Casey explained his withdraw from the US Masters 2022.

Since the US Masters is an invitational tournament, there is no list of players who advance if someone else withdraws, as is the case with normal tour events. So at least Casey cannot be accused of having made his decision earlier.

PGA Tour

Bryson DeChambeau: “Won’t be able to go fully at it until Augusta.”

Although Bryson DeChambeau is playing a tournament on the PGA Tour for the first time since his injury this week, he is still far from his ideal form.

Long hitter and crowd pleaser Bryson DeChambeau returns to the PGA Tour after his lengthy injury. The start at the WGC Matchplay in Texas is his first tournament since withdrawing from the Saudi International in February due to hand an hip issues. For a long time it was considered uncertain what the injury was and, above all, how serious it was. He gave a clear denial to the Golf Channel to the speculations that the injuries were caused by too hard training. And yet, especially for the aspiring superstar it was a difficult situation, because his golf game lives from a power for which a healthy body is indispensable. BDC knows that, too, and that’s why he says he won’t take any big risks until the US Masters in April, so that he can return to his full potential at the tournament in Augusta.

WGC Matchplay: The tee times for the group stage

Bryson DeChambeau: “Learned a lot about my body over time”.

For a good two months now, the long-hitter has been plagued by hand and hip pain. Voices were quickly raised to attribute his injury problems to the intensive training that BDC has been doing for years. DeChambeau commented on the issue to Golf Channel this week before the WGC Matchplay:

“People say it’s because of the speed training and all the strength training and certainly some of those things have contributed to it. I’ve been working very hard and maybe overdoing it here and there,” he explained to Golf Channel. “But at the same time, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve learned so much about my body over the years, how to deal with certain things and also how important rest is.”

So now this week, his return to Tour action. At the WGC Matchplay in Texas, fans can look forward to exciting golf in match play format and Bryson DeChambeau in particular has chosen a very special playing partner on his return, Englishman Richard Bland.

WGC Matchplay: the groupings for the first few days

Augusta in view: Bryson DeChambeau’s comeback plan

Even though the WGC Matchplay is a popular and exciting tournament on the schedule this week, many pros are already looking to the future, as the highlight of the year, the US Masters 2022, is less than two weeks away. What Wimbledon is for tennis players, Augusta is for every golf fanatic.

Bryson DeChambeau also wants to attack the green jacket this year. Back in 2020, he said that the 72 par course at Augusta felt more like a 68 par course for him to play, raising expectations sky high. Now, two years later, BDC enters the crucial weeks leading up to the Masters without much competitive experience and still has a long way to go if he wants to be successful at Augusta.

But to that end, the 28-year-old American has set himself a comeback schedule, starting with next week’s WGC Matchplay and Valero Texas Open. Still, he is realistic about his chances of stepping up a gear in the last tournament before the first major of the year. He explained, “Will I be all in? No. Not even close. I probably won’t be able to really get going until Augusta.”

Accordingly, it will be interesting to see how DeChambeau presents himself on the course over the next two weeks. On the one hand, he has to get back to his best game as quickly as possible, on the other hand, he must not take any unnecessary risks in order not to provoke another injury. BDC has to find the right balance for himself.