By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – Fred Ridley said it was humbling to begin his tenure as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the U.S. Masters Tournament on Monday.
The 65-year-old business lawyer, who is the seventh chairman in the club’s 85-year history and the only one to have competed in the Masters, cited club founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts in a statement he released.
“Throughout my life, Bobby Jones has been my idol and role model. I remember meeting Clifford Roberts during my first visit to Augusta National as an amateur invitee more than four decades ago,” said Ridley.
“So to become Chairman of Augusta National and the Masters is beyond humbling.
“I stand ready to embrace the responsibilities that come with this important position, strengthened by the lessons the sport teaches and the example of those who have provided leadership to me over the years.”
Ridley succeeds the dynamic Billy Payne, who announced his retirement in August after a tenure that began in 2006 and included sweeping changes at what is perhaps the world’s most exclusive golf club, including opening Augusta National’s doors to female members.
Ridley works for the prominent law firm of Foley & Lardner, where he operates out of the Tampa office and is the national chair of the firm’s real-estate practice.
He became a member at Augusta National in 2000 and began serving as chairman of the Tournament’s Competition Committees in 2007.
“As Chairman, I will always look to Jones and Roberts as a source of wisdom and inspiration,” said Ridley, who missed the cut in his three Masters appearances during the 1970s.
“I fully subscribe to their mandate of constant improvement and their commitment to maintaining the highest standard in all that we do.
“I pledge to use my deep-rooted respect for the customs and traditions they established to further elevate our Club and Tournament, while continuing their mission of contributing to the development of the sport around the world.”