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New Ball to Make Major Debut at Masters, Greg Norman Snubbed by Augusta National

Former player, Augusta President Fred S. Ridley has witnessed the evolution of the game over the past decades and welcomes the decision of the authorities to introduce a new ball in 2026.

Augusta National Golf Club President Fred S. Ridley , Augusta National Golf Club President Fred S. Ridley , released his reasons for not inviting Greg Norman this year. . Which did not fail to irritate the sulphurous boss of LIV Golf .

“As a former Major winner, I had always been invited in the past but last year I only received standard places. This year, I haven’t received anything, ” lamented the Australian.

Greg Norman persona non grata

To justify his decision to sideline the “White Shark”, Ridley explained that due to the tensions that have shaken the world of golf since the emergence of the circuit financed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and led by Norman, his presence would certainly have diverted attention from the tournament itself. A situation that Ridley wanted to avoid.

“Our main concern is with the competition here at the Masters and we want the focus to only be on the great champions taking part in the tournament. I would add that over the past ten years, Greg Norman has only been to Augusta twice, once to commentate on Sirius Radio. » 

One wonders how the organizers should have composed if Norman had won the Masters. An opportunity that presented itself in particular in 1996 when he started with a six-stroke lead and but let the victory slip away…

Although, there is no doubt that his relationship with the PGA Tour would certainly have been quite different.

The new ball expected in 2026

Less anecdotal, Ridley’s opinion on the introduction of the new rule concerning the possibility of imposing a “bridled” ball at the Masters was also very listened to.

Regularly, during his annual press conference, the President of Augusta addresses the issue of distance and often in order to put pressure on the governing bodies.

We therefore suspected that Fred S. Ridley, who played the Masters for the first time in 1976 as winner of the US Amateur , then was often scorer-non-competitor, the years when the number of players qualified for the week -end was odd, would welcome the decision of the USGA and the Royal and Ancient.

When Tiger Woods first won in 1997, the distance was still about the same. It was only a few years later that it increased

Fred S. Ridley

“As the debate is still open, we will respect the process as the USGA and R&A continue to review this important issue,” Ridley began . We have been consistent in our support for the governing bodies, and we reaffirm our desire to see the questions concerning distance addressed. » 

So, if the “Model Local Rule” comes into effect in January 2026, the Masters will certainly be the first Major tournament to implement it on the occasion of the 90th edition of the tournament three months later.

Material, physics, technical progress at all levels

“A number of players have expressed their opposition. I’m sure they have good reasons for that but I would also say that other notable players felt it was the right thing to do,” Ridley said, referring to comments made the day before by Tiger. Woods in this same room.

“For my part, this is what I have seen at the Masters for several decades. When I played in the tournament in 1976, 77 and 78, the course was around 6,300 meters (compared to 6,900 meters in 2023) and when Tiger Woods won in 1997 for the first time, the distance was still at almost identical. It was only a few years later that it increased. » 

For the President of Augusta, this trend has greatly accelerated in recent years with significant advances in technology and the efforts of equipment manufacturers, but also because players are increasingly athletic and equipped with more efficient swings than before. the past.

Source: golfplanete