Female reporter wrongly barred at Augusta

A female reporter was denied access to the locker room to interview Rory McIlroy after Sunday’s final round of the Masters, though it was later revealed as a misunderstanding by a security official.

A Masters media staff member apologized Sunday to Tara Sullivan, a columnist for the Bergen (N.J.) Record, after she was barred by security personnel from entering the player’s locker room for an interview because she was a woman. At least a dozen male reporters were granted access to the locker room following Sunday’s final round of the Masters.

“I was told that is not the policy of Augusta National [to deny women access],” Sullivan said of a conversation two hours later with a media staff member for the tournament.

Augusta National refused to make an immediate statement.

Sullivan said she was told by two security personnel, one of whom was female, that she was not allowed into the locker room when a larger group of media went to speak with McIlroy. All reporters are supposed to have access to the room, according to Masters media policy.

“I was told women were not allowed in the locker room,” she said.

Sullivan said she planned on interviewing McIlroy in a traditional area under the big tree in front of the clubhouse. McIlroy didn’t stop and Sullivan said she followed the golfer with a pack of reporters into the clubhouse and down the hall to the locker room.

“It was not anyone in a green jacket,” Sullivan said, speaking of the members of Augusta National. “They were two white-shirted security personnel.

“I didn’t create any problems at all. There weren’t any officials there. This was a security person, it’s not her policy. So I went outside.”

Sullivan said she was told by Steve Ethun of the Masters media committee that, “it was a complete misunderstanding by the tournament week security and [I] should have rightfully been given access per the standard practices of major sporting events.”

Equal access to locker rooms for female reporters has been an issue for decades, although most professional and college organizations have set policies. Women have been allowed access to the Masters locker room since 1985.

Sullivan said male reporters provided a transcript to McIlroy’s comments. Sullivan has been a professional journalist for two decades. This is her fourth time covering the Masters.

Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October. Follow him on Twitter. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Sunday, Apr 10, 2011