Christine Brennan The USA Today columnist who ignited the Augusta debate can't wait to grill Hootie again

April 07, 2003

SI: Your story last April decrying Augusta National's all-male
membership inspired Martha Burk to write to Hootie Johnson,
kicking off this controversy. So how does it feel to be Bob
Woodward in pearls?

CB: I certainly never sought an active role, but as an
opinionated journalist--a columnist--I'm thrilled that sex
discrimination in golf has finally become an issue. It's a very
good dialogue for the sport to be having.

SI: You've been writing about Augusta National since ...

CB: ...since 1999. I had become a cliche.

SI: Why did it take a woman to drive this issue?

CB: I am really reluctant to say a woman's perspective is
different in sports journalism. And I don't want to sound as if
I'm indicting the golf media, because I adore the guys on the
beat--in fact I've dated a couple of them. But could it be that
they didn't see this as a serious issue because a lot of them
have played at all-male clubs?

SI: In '99 Hootie refused to answer your questions about the
club's lack of female members during his annual Wednesday press
conference. Replay what happened afterward.

CB: The next day I was sitting in the press center, and Hootie
sought me out so we could be introduced properly. We mostly
exchanged pleasantries, but I did ask him, very casually, "So why
don't you have a woman member?" And he said, "We will in due time."

SI: Why haven't you written about that?

CB: I guess it might be of use in a future column, but that's
O.K., you can have it.

SI: Hootie's press conference this year has the makings of a
media circus. Are you licking your chops?

CB: I haven't thought about it. But put it this way: I have a few
questions left for Hootie, and I look forward to asking them.

SI: It may be a very scripted occasion, not unlike the
President's recent prime-time news conference. Any fear that
Hootie may snub you, just as Bush dissed longtime White House
reporter Helen Thomas?

CB: I'm definitely not afraid to ask a question for fear of being
snubbed.

SI: What if Hootie strolled in with the first woman member?

CB: I would love to write that column. I certainly wouldn't focus
on how long it has taken. I would congratulate him on his
courage. You know, it's not too late for Hootie. He could still
be seen as a hero.

COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON AGENT PROVOCATEUR Brennan has been writing about AugustaNational's woman troubles since 1999.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)