Augusta National beginning to embrace women's golf

The 31-year-old enjoyed a practice round with former world No 1 golfer Rory McIlroy

The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, normally means the cold and dreary winter is behind us. Even the first players out won't tee off until after 10 a.m., but rain could become strong enough to halt play.

The women are coming, the women are coming! The first two 18-hole rounds will take place at the Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans, Ga.Ridley said he considered the new tournament to be an extension of Masters week, which also includes a youth drive, chip and putt championship on the Sunday before the main event.

But the 42-year-old made it clear he felt he was not to blame for being put on the clock by rules officials at Augusta National.

Fred Ridley, Masters Tournament chairman, announced Wednesday that the club will host the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship next spring with the Saturday final on April 6, the week before the Masters. Ridley, who succeeded Billy Payne as chairman of Augusta National in October, spoke at the traditional chairman's press conference on the eve of the Masters.

Victory in the inaugural competition will provide the victor with an invitation to the next five Augusta National Women's Amateur Championships, among other tournaments, provided she remains an amateur.

"The Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship embodies that principle, and we believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women's game". Mostly sunny skies will allow temperatures to climb into the upper 70s F (23-26 C), with light winds in the morning and just a bit brisker winds, nearing 10 miles per hour, in the afternoon. The ANA Inspiration, the first major of the year on the women's calendar, is held the week before the Masters. "I happen to have three daughters, and they all love golf". "It's fabulous. I can't wait to see how the women handle one of the greatest golf courses in the world". Unless you stand on the 12th and 11th and you get a big wind switch, that's when obviously it's going to get tricky.

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