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Augusta Women’s Amateur omits key champion
Now that the PGA Tour has reached Florida, we’re only a month or so away from the Masters. But this year has a different twist.

The weekend before Masters Week, the green-jacketed leadership at Augusta National Golf Club will be patting themselves on the back for their historic use of their hallowed grounds for a women’s amateur tournament. Not really a whole tournament; just one round for those who make the cut after 36 holes at neighboring Champions Retreat (even though Augusta National will allow all competitors to play a practice round on the day after the cut ... before the final round). Kind of odd, but I’ll give them a pass for trying.

But where they really dropped the ball is the exclusion of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur winner as one of the automatic qualifiers. Of the six automatic qualifiers for this year’s tournament, there are three women’s amateur winners (U.S., British, Asia-Pacific) and three junior girls amateur winners (U.S., British, PGA Junior).

Augusta National does not invite the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur winner to play in its amateur event, but the club invites the U.S. men’s mid-am champion to play in the Masters. Hmm . . . .

The club’s response will be that there are 60 other open spots (before the final six to be made by club invitation) available through world-ranking points. But if you look at the events which carry the bulk of the ranking points, many of those events are collegiate tournaments available to players in top-echelon programs. There are a number of other tournaments in which college players participate. As with all rankings, points can be accumulated in a lot of the events with middle-of-the-pack finishes. The mid-amateur who is through school and works for a living must take vacation to play in a few events and would almost need to win to accumulate enough points. Many of them feel obligated to support their state and local golf associations and use their leave for those events.

The tournament is a nice gesture to female amateurs, but it appears that Augusta National has whiffed by making it virtually impossible for a working, career amateur to qualify.

I would have expected more from Augusta National, which counts among its members club chairman Fred Ridley and Vinny Giles, both career amateurs and former U.S. Amateur champions.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Hawkins captures human decency of touring pros
John Hawkins summed up perfectly why I tell friends that golf is my favorite spectator sport: the integrity and kindness you find among professional golfers is unmatched by any other sport (“Pro golf’s nice guys don’t finish last,” Feb. 26). Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but the basic human decency found on the PGA Tour is striking.

I would add to Hawk’s list of superlatives that the quality of the writing in golf journalism far exceeds that of other athletic endeavors.

Keep up the great work.

Tim Dowling
Reston, Va.

Applause for the pride of Pensacola
I agree 100 percent with John Hawkins’ opinion of Joe Durant (“Pro golf’s nice guys don’t finish last,” Feb. 26). Joe is from our hometown of Pensacola, Fla., and a close friend of my brother, Bill Woodbury. Our deceased brother Tod was arguably Joe's biggest fan.

It is no surprise to anyone that Joe is sincerely nice, but it is so great to see it recognized and beautifully written by such a great sportswriter as Hawkins.

Nancy (Woodbury) Royals
Peoria, Ariz.

Don’t forget Harrington and Furyk
Thank you for the list of good guys in golf (“Pro golf’s nice guys don’t finish last,” Feb. 26).

I would add Padraig Harrington and Jim Furyk, based on my viewing of their interaction with fans and marshals at the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National.

Mike Kukelko
Oak Bluff, Manitoba

Tiger Era has ended, so show somebody else
Ken Staroscik hit the nail on the head when it comes to the ad nauseum fawning the networks do over Tiger Woods (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 25).

Not only do they show every shot, but they refer to him in every story they tell and every statistic they cite. Every player on the PGA Tour is relegated to a supporting cast. And when Woods isn’t even in the field, they still talk about him on every telecast, to some degree.

Enough, already. His dominance has been gone for years.

Frank Blauch
Lebanon, Pa.

Tiger Woods sells TV golf, so get used to it
For those who don’t like to see the TV coverage of Tiger Woods, all 200 of you: Get over it.

The 100,000-plus who watch TV golf or go to tournaments in which Tiger Woods plays want to see him, and the advertisers know it.

Ed Capek
St. Augustine, Fla.

It’s great to have Woods back in form
I was at Riviera for the Genesis Open on Saturday morning when Tiger Woods was right on the cut line. The crowd, although quite smaller than expected due to the threat of rain and the sub-55-degree weather, was everything that Arnie's Army was in the 1960s.

Starting on No. 10, Woods went birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie. The cheering was earth-shaking.

Woods, thankfully, is healthy and back.

If nothing else, it's great to have a living legend still competing and not as a mere figurehead at any PGA event he chooses to play.

Daniel Cahill
Santa Ana, Calif.

Viewing tip from Tip: Just change channel
Count me in the group that's had too much of Tiger Woods – as of about 15 years ago.

Yes, he's an incredibly talented golfer and the best of his generation, but as a human, not so much – and I'm not talking about his off-course antics. I've seen him in person at tournaments, and he was a horrible role model for anyone playing the game. That being said, TV and commentators will talk about him because that seems to be all anyone wants to talk about. As proved over and over again, people will pay to watch him, and sponsors will pay someone who makes people watch. That's their choice.

However, after watching a “Golf Central” show start with 17 minutes of Tiger coverage when he was 10 or so back after Jon Rahm shot 62, I decided I'd vote with my feet and my money.

I won't pay to see him, nor will I watch when he's on TV. Instead, I can listen to PGA Tour Radio (which although is heavy on Woods coverage like other media outlets when he's playing), at least it covers other players fairly equitably and I can do something I enjoy while listening, such as play golf. How about that?

For those of you who feel as I do, remember: There are other channels, and the TV does have an "off" button.

Tip Wight
Hampton, Va.

Don’t sweat it, LPGA miscreants. Most eyes were on Tiger
I just saw the video of the Olson-Jutanugarn situation in which Amy Olson's chip was saved from ignominy when it slammed into Ariya Jutanugarn's ball near the hole in the second round of the Honda LPGA Thailand.

Reader Bill Tignanelli made the correct call (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 26). Jutanugarn seemed to indicate that she would mark, but Olson apparently refused the offer. Both players failed in their responsibility to the rest of the field. Their fist-bump reaction indicates to me that neither player understood the rule or the implications.

Players are responsible to know the rules. Both should have received the appropriate general penalty. Luckily for the LPGA, not too many people were watching. They were watching Tiger Woods.

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.

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