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Time is right for a women's Masters, defending Lexi & time for Alliss to go

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There’s nothing I don’t love about Masters week.

The speculation of what will be served at the Champions’ Dinner; the Par-3 Tournament (sadly cancelled this year due to adverse weather); the video clips of people driving up Magnolia Lane; the azaleas in full bloom; the anticipation of who will be the next player to slip into a green jacket… I love it all.

I even love how strict the rules are at Augusta National (don’t run on the grounds, no mobile phones allowed, etc). The club marches to the beat of its own drum and everybody falls into line. Why? Because nobody is in any doubt as to how big a deal the Masters is. It’s a week that everyone in golf looks forward to.

Now, imagine how good it would be to get to see Augusta in all of its glory twice a year rather than once. Imagine, for a second, the prospect of another Masters Tournament on the calendar – a women’s Masters.

A women's Masters feels like the next logical step, the next 'glass ceiling' to shatter.

Not so long ago, such an idea would never have got off the ground on account of the club’s ‘male only’ membership policy. However, with a change in that position coming about in August 2012 and ladies now entitled to slip into a green jacket on the same terms as men, a women’s Masters doesn’t seem so fanciful a prospect. On the contrary, it feels like the next logical step for the club to take, the next ‘glass ceiling’ for the women’s game to shatter.

Lydia Ko

Last year, Lydia Ko, above, the world’s top-ranked female golfer, described such a possibility as ‘pretty cool’. “We dream of maybe getting to play at Augusta,” she added.

Paula Creamer has previously expressed her desire to see such a tournament added to the schedule, saying: “I've been there, I've played there, stayed in Butler Cabin. I had an awesome time. I think the patrons and everybody would love to have two weeks there, two tournaments. Why wouldn't you?”

Exactly. Why wouldn’t you? It would be a tremendous PR move for Augusta National – reinforcing its status as a modern, inclusive golf club – as well as for ladies’ golf and the LPGA. Can you imagine the demand for a women’s Masters relative to other events on the schedule? If it didn’t instantly become the best-attended and most-watched tournament, I can’t imagine it would be long before it did.

Golf has done lots to clean up its act without getting the credit it deserves.

More than anything else, it would also be a positive piece of PR for the game in general. Let’s be honest: golf gets a bad rap. The negative perceptions people have of the game are deeply ingrained and hard to shift, no matter how out-dated they may be.

Fact is, the sport has done plenty to ‘clean up its act’, so to speak, without getting the credit it deserves. What better way to confound the critics than by staging a new event, just for women, at a club they were denied membership of for so long? What a strong, powerful, myth-busting message that would send.

Besides, I’m sure nobody in the media would have any objections about getting to spend another week in their stunning, new working digs at Augusta National...

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Peter Alliss

Peter Alliss gave an interview to Newsweek, published this week, in which he says: “No matter how you wrap it up, women will never be able to do things that men can do.” There’s plenty more in the feature that, frankly, I have no wish to dignify with any further comment or analysis, so, I’ll just say this instead: Alliss may be the so-called ‘Voice of Golf’ but he most certainly doesn’t speak for the game.

Hang up the mic, Peter. Call it a day. And take your anachronistic, unhelpful opinions with you.

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Lexi

This week, I have been... shaking my head at the number of people calling Lexi Thompson a cheat over the ball-marking incident that, ultimately, cost her glory in last weekend’s ANA Inspiration.

‘Cheat’ is such a horrible, dirty word, particularly in golf where it can have career-savaging consequences. That’s why it cannot and must not be used casually. Did Lexi break a rule? Yes. Does that make her a cheat? No. In order for her to be a cheat, there needs to be proof of an intent to gain an advantage from breaking that rule. We don’t have that proof. Not even a shred of it. We can surmise and hypothesise all we like – but a hunch doesn’t open and close a case. Lexi says her mistake was innocent, ‘100% not intentional’.

I, for one, believe her. Even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be going around accusing her of something as heinous as cheating simply because I don’t believe her version of events. Shame on those who have.

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Stromness Chip Shop

I’ve been thinking about what I’d serve at the Champions Dinner  if I ever won the Masters. Haggis, neeps and tatties seems the obvious choice but it has already been done – way to steal my thunder, Sandy – so, instead, I’d go back to my island roots.

I spent most of my childhood in the Orkney Islands, right at the very north of Scotland. It’s got a few local ‘delicacies’, including something called a pattie supper, above.

Essentially, it’s mashed potato, mixed with onion, mince, pepper and some secret spices, which gets bundled together, deep fried and served with a side portion of chips. Every ‘chippy’ up there serves them and they are ridiculously good.

Throw in some Highland Park whisky to wash it down and some Orkney Fudge ice cream and you’ve got a winning Masters menu right there. Now, I just need to get better at golf…

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And finally… People say to me, “Why do you always insist that the BBC has given up on golf?” I think this picture explains it far better than I ever could.

Fitzpatrick Tweet

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