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Ridley officially takes over as Augusta National chairman

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With the opening of a new season, Fred Ridley is officially on the job as the seventh chairman in the 85-year history of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament.

Ridley, 65, was announced as the club's chairman in August when Billy Payne retired after more than a decade in the position. On his first official day in office, Ridley released a statement in which he described Augusta National co-founder Bobby Jones as an "idol and role model."

"To become chairman of Augusta National and the Masters is beyond humbling," Ridley said. "I stand ready to embrace the responsibilities that come with this important position, strengthened by the lessons the sport teaches and the examples of those who have provided leadership to me over the years."

Ridley became a member at Augusta National in 2000, and he has served as the chairman of the competition committee at the Masters since 2007. A resident of Tampa, Fla., he also served as USGA president from 2004-05 and won the 1975 U.S. Amateur at the Country Club of Virginia.

"As chairman, I will always look to Jones and (co-founder Clifford) Roberts as a source of wisdom and inspiration," Ridley said. "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."

Ridley also becomes the first club chairman to have ever competed in the Masters. He earned invites in 1976 and 1977 based on his win at the 1975 U.S. Amateur, and played again in 1978 after making the 1977 U.S. Walker Cup team. He remains the last U.S. Amateur champion to have never turned professional, instead making his living as partner of an international law firm.

Ridley closed his statement with remarks about Payne, who announced his his retirement this summer at age 70 and "appointed" Ridley as his successor while assuming the new role of chairman emeritus.

"His confidence in allowing me this honor has already had a profound impact on my life," Ridley said. "I am grateful to consider him a friend and mentor, both personally and professionally."