Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley hosted the annual ‘State of the Masters’ address ahead of this year’s 87th hosting of the Masters.
The accredited media got comfortable as Ridley first outlined a number of Augusta National initiatives, including now formal confirmation, not that it was required, that the 13th tee has indeed been extended while he also announced other ‘pat ourselves on the back’ achievements since the ’22 Masters.
Ridley then faced close to 20 questions from the media that would produce a transcript of just over 5,200 words.
The two key questions, if you like, put to Ridley were firstly why LIV Commissioner, Greg Norman is not in attendance at Augusta National to join other Tour CEOs and Commissioners who have been seen in attendance on the premises?
“We did not extend an invitation to Mr. Norman”, said Ridley.
“The primary issue and the driver there is that I want the focus this week to be on the Masters competition, on the great players that are participating, the greatest players in the world, which, by our decision in December, we ensured that we were going to honour and be consistent with our invitation criteria.
“I would also add that, in the last ten years, Greg Norman has only been here twice, and I believe one of those was as a commentator for Sirius Radio.
“It really was to keep the focus on the competition”.
And a second LIV Golf-related question to Ridley involved the future of qualified LIV golfers competing in the Masters, and with 18 LIV players teeing-up on Thursday, among them six former Augusta winners.
“Well, I mean, I think when you look at the changes that I mentioned that are going to be in place for 2024, they are fairly administrative, I think would be the best word,” said Ridley
“The reason for that statement in December was really to sort of disabuse the notion that we might not be making any changes in the future. It wasn’t to specifically have you anticipate that we were going to make some major announcement, although that could be the case.
“We do look at our qualifications every year, but there are changes. Things are evolving, and we need to make sure that we are flexible in that regard. So, I’m sure there will be changes in the future, but none beyond what I announced this morning”.
“So, for the time being it would see that those six LIV golfers who have currently won a Masters will return next year, and also any LIV golfer inside the top-50 on the World Rankings”.
The 2023 State of the Masters presser wound-up with Ridley being asked about his three appearances teeing-up as an amateur.
Sorry, your attendance inside the ropes not the story Mr. Ridley!
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