Augusta's chairman rebukes Woods

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Augusta (Georgia, US), Apr.8 (ANI): The chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, Bill Payne, singled out Tiger Woods for harsh rebuke on Wednesday, when he said that the world's top-ranked golfer did not live up to role model expectations and had "disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids."

Reading from a statement, Payne added: "His future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his effort to change. I hope he now realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile."

As the chairman of a club with a membership that includes chief executives from many of the country's biggest corporations and investment banks as well as business leaders worldwide, it is unlikely Payne's statement was meant to be a personal one, The Times reports.

For years, the voice of Augusta National has been one voice and that voice is the chairman's. Forty years ago, that voice was delivered autocratically, but in recent decades, the membership has helped guide the club's public comments.

On Wednesday, on the most prominent stage the membership has, Payne appeared to be speaking for his irritated Augusta National brethren.

Sitting at a lectern in the club's news conference room, Payne spoke with two high-ranking members at his side and another 15 to 20 Augusta National members sitting in the back. Shoulder to shoulder, each wore the emblematic green jacket.

Payne's rebuke came on a day when Woods played another uneventful practice round in preparation for his return on Thursday to competitive golf. The day also saw the airing a new 30-second television commercial for Nike featuring a seemingly sombre Woods staring straight into the camera with the voice of his father saying: "I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?"

Payne said Woods's golf game and work ethic were worthy of comparison to Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Bobby Jones, but he quickly added that Woods had forgotten that with "fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility."

He called Woods's behavior "egregious".

"Is there a way forward?" he asked, referring to Woods's future. "I hope yes. I think yes. I hope he can come to understand that life's greatest rewards are reserved for those who bring joy to the lives of other people. We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here tomorrow in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner. But this time, with a significant difference from the past. This year, it will not be just for him, for all of us, who believe in second chances."

Asked later to elaborate on his comments, Payne declined. (ANI)

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