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Qs on no-women policy a Payne for Augusta Boss

Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne was forced to fight off questions over the club's contraversial men-only members policy.

The issue arises on a regular basis, but had particular resonance this year because one of the tournament's sponsors IBM has a new chief executive, Virginia Rometty.

All four of her male predecessors were invited to be members.

Payne said: "All issues of membership have been and are subject to private deliberations of the members."

"That statement remains accurate. That remains my statement."

Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne says membership issues are private.

When asked to send a message to young girls that one day they might be able to join, Payne added: "Once again, that deals with a membership issue and I'm not going to answer it. Thank you for your question, sir."

Despite hosting one of sport's most prestigious events the Augusta National, which was founded in 1932, is an intensely guarded private club with about 300 male members.

When pressed repeatedly on the topic and asked why he could not elaborate, Payne added: "I guess two reasons. One, we don't talk about our private deliberations. Number two, we especially don't talk about them when a named candidate is part of the question."

Payne's predecessor Hootie Johnson had previously stated that female membership would come on the club's timetable and "not at the point of a bayonet".

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