Augusta National adds women's tournament to Masters week run-up

It appears Augusta National might escape the heavy rain once predicted to plague Round 3.

Augusta National, which resisted allowing female membership well into the 21st century, announced Wednesday that a new women's amateur tournament will be played in part on the historic golf course the week before the Masters starting in 2019.

Masters chairman Fred Ridley announced the creation of the three-round, 72-player Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship during his pre-tournament press conference, calling the new tournament a move to help grow the game of golf.

"This championship will be held the week prior to the Masters, and the final round will take place on Saturday, April 6, 2019, here at Augusta National Golf Club," Ridley said.

The Champions Retreat outside Augusta, Ga., will host the tournament's first two rounds.

The tournament finale adds another layer to an expanding run-up to the season's first major. The Masters already hosts the finals of a national "Drive, Pitch and Putt" competition for male and female youth golfers on the Sunday before Masters week.

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"This championship will become an exciting addition to the Masters week, and it furthers our effort to promote the sport and inspire young women to take up the game," Ridley said, adding that Masters officials believe it will be the most widely attended amateur tournament in the world — and by a large margin.

Augusta National didn't allow its first female members until August 2012, when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore were invited to join the exclusive club.