The former television executive who is the first known Augusta National Golf Club member to resign in protest of the club's lack of female membership has at least one important admirer:
The world's best golfer.
Tiger Woods said Tuesday that former CBS chief executive Thomas H. Wyman, the first known defector from the exclusive club, should be applauded for his sincerity.
"You have to admire him for what he did," Woods said at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, where he is the host of the Target World Challenge.
Wyman, 72, a club member for 25 years, submitted his resignation from Augusta in a Nov. 27 letter to club chairman Hootie Johnson. In a broadcast interview Tuesday night, he told CNN's Connie Chung that it was a decision he'd been "brooding over for several months."
He said the sentiment for change, Johnson's delay in adding a female member and the questions by "women's groups" about "why the club has been so out of touch with the times" were contributing factors.
Before his resignation, Wyman said he exchanged letters with Johnson and was told the addition of a female member was not scheduled.
"What once appeared [as] the inevitability of women joining ... Hootie Johnson has made clear there is no fixed plan," Wyman said. "The institution is drawing inward."
Wyman, who ran CBS from 1979-86, said he respects the club's right to assert privacy "unless there are some overriding considerations, and in this case there are. [Augusta] is a shrine, it's a model, and its image is being chopped down by the day by policies that are so far out of touch with today."
Wyman's resignation was first reported Monday in a New York Times story in which he was quoted calling Augusta's stand on female membership "pigheaded" and said "a large number of members, at least 50 to 75, who believe it is inevitable that there will be and should be a woman member."
Those numbers are in stark contrast to an estimate Johnson made in an interview last month when he said "99%" of the about 300 club members agreed with Augusta's membership policy.
Johnson was not available for comment Tuesday. Augusta National officials said Wyman's move would not sway the club's position to admit women members in its own time. In a brief written statement, the club stated its intention to "stand firm" and expressed disappointment "that Mr. Wyman has chosen to publicize a private matter."
Augusta National does not have exclusionary policies, but the fact that it has no female member has been a hot topic since June, when Martha Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, sent Johnson a letter urging the club to move quickly toward admitting a female member.
Wyman said he would encourage active corporate leaders who are Augusta National members to break their silence on the matter and demand a change. "My hope and expectation is that ... the good ol' boys club will join the 21st century," he told Chung.
He compared the need for a female member to the 1990 addition of a first black member at Augusta National. "The parallel with the situation is absolute," Wyman said. "We were forced to invite members [and] it was done quickly and gracefully. It could be done precisely the same way with the women."
Around Augusta, callers to an afternoon radio show did not mince words in bidding good riddance to Wyman's membership. Some called to say that any member who speaks publicly should be expelled. Others suggested their own female candidates -- including Anna Nicole Smith and RuPaul -- who might be admitted in order to best anger feminist protesters.
Standing outside the banquet hall he owns across the street from the club's entrance, Terry Wick seemed baffled.
"To just drop your membership?" he said. "That's a slap in the face to Augusta."
Back in Thousand Oaks, Woods reaffirmed his position that he believes a woman should be invited to join the club, but that he does not have a vote in the matter.
Wyman has called upon both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to publicly support the campaign for Augusta to admit a woman member.
Burk said she respected Wyman for mentioning Palmer and Nicklaus, adding, "It's time somebody challenged these people besides the NCWO. And Tim Finchem and the [PGA] Tour are still the biggest hypocrites in the mix."
The PGA Tour has a policy not to stage events at clubs that discriminate, but says it has no contractual deal with Augusta National.
Palmer, who was at his home near Orlando, Fla., refused to comment through a spokesman. However, he said recently that he was unsure what his role would be. "I don't think I can lend anything to help the situation," Palmer said.
Nicklaus was traveling and unavailable for comment, according to a spokesman for Golden Bear International.
However, the spokesman released a statement from Nicklaus.
"I sympathize greatly with it ... " Nicklaus said in the statement. "But it is not my deal."