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Should women be allowed to play in the Masters?

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Despite New York Times' call, Tiger firm in stance

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ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The New York Times suggested in an editorial Monday that Tiger Woods skip the Masters next year because of the all-male membership at Augusta National Golf Club.

"A tournament without Mr. Woods would send a powerful message that discrimination isn't good for the golfing business,'' the editorial said.

Augusta National declined comment.

Woods, playing in this week's Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Miyazaki, Japan, refused to comment directly on the newspaper's editorial, only saying the issue boiled down to a "difference of opinion."

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion," Woods told Reuters on Tuesday. "I have always said there should be women members but it's up to the membership to decide. I'm just an honorary member, so I don't have voting rights.

"I've stated my opinion in the past but it's definitely a tough issue."

In interviews this month, Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson was adamant that a woman would not be among the 300 members at Augusta by the start of the Masters in April.

Johnson's comments were the first on the subject since he criticized Martha Burk and the National Council of Women's Organizations for trying to coerce change at the golf course.

The Times said that if Augusta National "can brazenly discriminate against women, that means others can choose not to support Mr. Johnson's golfing fraternity. That includes more enlightened members of the club, CBS Sports, which televises the Masters, and the players, especially Tiger Woods.''

The editorial said Sanford I. Weill, the chief executive of Citigroup, and Kenneth Chenault, chairman of American Express, should "lead the way'' for other prominent members and resign from the club.

Weill and Chenault have said Augusta National should admit female members. A spokeswoman for American Express refused comment, and a telephone message left for Weill at Citigroup was not returned.

"CBS will broadcast the Masters in April,'' CBS Sports VP LeslieAnne Wade said, declining further comment.

The network has had a series of one-year deals since 1956 to televise the Masters, the highest-rated golf tournament.

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