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Back to the past at Augusta: women still outsiders

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This time is different – notably because one of the Masters' longtime sponsors, IBM, has a new female CEO, Virginia Rometty. The last four CEOs at IBM, all male, were invited to be members, so whether Rometty will be offered the same status is an inevitable question.

Augusta National's chairman, Billy Payne, has refused to provide a substantive answer, saying the club's membership decisions are private. The players competing in this year's Masters – which concludes Sunday – have generally dodged the subject. IBM and other major sponsors have declined to comment.

"Their silence sent a message loud and clear: 'We respect the boys at Augusta National Golf Club more than we respect our female CEO,'" Burk wrote Friday in an online column for WeNews.

There's been ample high-level comment elsewhere, even from the White House.

President Barack Obama's "personal opinion is that women should be admitted" to the golf club, according to his press secretary, Jay Carney.

"We're kind of long past the time when women should be excluded from anything," Carney said.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Obama's likely challenger in the fall, said "of course" he would allow women in "if I could run Augusta."

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