Burk: Tiger, Masters share 'disregard for women'

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Martha Burk isn't surprised that Tiger Woods chose Augusta National as the venue for his return to competitive golf. But she can't help but point out the irony.

"I think this is a safe haven for him," Burk told the New York Daily News. "They're all chauvinists themselves. It's a perfect fit. He'll be welcomed. These people have a fundamental disregard for women."

Burk, who made national news in 2003 by protesting the exclusion of women as members at Augusta National, said she believes Woods may have spared himself, at least temporarily, from having to deal with the harsh scrutiny from spectators and media in his first tournament since revalations of his infidelity came to light in the wake of his Thanksgiving crash outside his Florida home.

"Inside the grounds at the Masters, I don't think there will be any heckling or protests," she said. "The people who go there are such golf devotees, they feel like kissing the ground when they get inside the gate. And if the media pursues the issue ... it's such a dictatorship, officials are completely capable of barring any reporter from the tournament who brings it up at the pre-tournament interview."

Burk, an author and director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women's Organizations, views Woods' recent statements of apology and his return to competition in time for one of golf's major championships with some degree of skepticism.

"The timetable raises questions about how repentant he is," Burk said. "He's got many hardcore fans who never believe he can do much of anything wrong, who blame the victim. But guys like him who are so ego-driven, they are completely capable of a public apology that is completely empty.

"When I looked at him on TV, he looked pretty sick to his stomach. Is it false redemption? I hope (Elin, his wife) doesn't validate him by coming. It's still pretty early in the process. If his handlers have any sense, they'll just position him with golf, they won't do that. But I've not found his P.R. people to be the sharpest."

Burk had her own issues with Woods during her crusade against Augusta National's policies seven years ago. She believes Woods was in a position to help support her cause, but that he wanted to distance himself from the controversy and remain in the good graces of the club's members. Among her current causes with NCWO is spearheading litigation to prevent executives from claiming membership fees to all-men's clubs as corporate expenses.

Burk said she was surprised when the stories of Woods' transgressions began to break.

"He always seemed to be super disciplined, an automaton," she said. "But once it came out, it wasn't so shocking. This kind of behavior is part of a fundamental misogyny that is displayed by many people in power. We see this a lot with politicians, your Eliot Spitzer ... They get to thinking they are above it all.

"Tiger Woods just outdid everybody."
Tagged: Tiger Woods

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