Billy Payne and Fred Ridley at the 2016 Masters Tournament. (Getty Images)

Payne retiring as Augusta National chairman

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Billy Payne is retiring as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters, the club announced Wednesday. He will be replaced by Fred Ridley.

Payne, who turns 70 in October, had served in the role since 2006 and was instrumental in modernizing Augusta National, admitting the club’s first female members and growing the game worldwide.

Ridley, a former president of the USGA, has served as the competition chairman since 2007. A former U.S. Amateur champion, Ridley, 65, is the first chairman to have played in the Masters (1976-78).

Payne will retire from his role Oct. 16 and become chairman emeritus.

“The privilege I experienced serving as chairman of Augusta National and the Masters was far greater than I could have ever imagined,” he said in a statement. “This honor, however, is too great for one person to claim as their own for too long a period of time. I retire knowing it is simply the right thing to do – and at the right moment – to open the door and invite someone new to be called upon to lead, bring forth new ideas and craft a new vision that will honor our founders and serve the game of golf for many years to come.”


Augusta National Golf Club chairmen Years served
Clifford Roberts  1931-1976
William H. Lane  1976-1980
Hord H. Hardin 1980-1991 
Jackson T. Stephens  1991-1998
William W. Johnson  1998-2006
William P. Payne  2006-2017
Fred S. Ridley 2017 - 

Who is Fred Ridley? A closer look at the new Augusta National chairman

Photos: Fred Ridley through the years


Payne’s 11-year term – the second-longest in club history – was arguably the most transformative in the 84-year history of Augusta National.

In 2012, the club announced that it had admitted its first female members, marking a significant departure from the previous tenure of Hootie Johnson, who had vehemently defended the male-only membership policy. ANGC now has three female members: Condoleezza Rice, Darla Moore and Virginia Rometty.

Payne has also succeeded in growing golf worldwide, creating the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship on the eve of Masters week, starting amateur tournaments in Asia and South America, and spearheading golf’s return to the Olympic Games.

As much as the course has stayed the same inside the ropes, Payne has significantly upgraded areas like building a new media center and Berckmans Place, for corporate hospitality. In one of his final acts as chairman, the club purchased land from neighboring Augusta Country Club that secured the course’s border and made room for the possible expansion of the par-5 13th hole.

Payne and Ridley were elevated into their new roles in 2006, when Ridley became the chairman of the competition and rules committee.

Ridley, who becomes the club’s seventh chairman, was a past president of the USGA from 2004-05. In the 2013 Masters, Ridley was involved in a controversial rules situation involving Tiger Woods, when he gave Woods a two-shot penalty instead of disqualifying him for taking an improper drop.

Said Payne: “Fred will be an excellent chairman who will serve with my complete and enthusiastic support.” 

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."