AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The tradition of having honorary starters at the Masters goes back to 1963, when Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod did the initial honors.
It has not been an annual occurrence; the Masters has opened on at least eight occasions since without an honorary starter.
Only nine men have taken those tournament-opening swings.
That list grows to 10 this morning.
Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will be back in their roles, and for the first time, they'll be joined by Lee Elder — the first Black man to play the Masters, back in 1975.
Ridley at last year's tournament announced a plan to honor Elder by establishing scholarships at Paine College — a historically Black school in Augusta — in his name and to have him join Nicklaus and Player in opening the Masters this year.
"I cannot wait to have the honor of introducing Lee," Ridley said Wednesday.
Cameron Champ, who'll be playing in his second Masters, said the addition of Elder to the honorary lineup was "huge."
"What he had to go through as a human being to play the game and just to endure that for so long it shows a lot about him and his character," Champ said.
Beside Hutchison, McLeod, Nicklaus and Player, the list of past honorary starters includes Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Ken Venturi, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer.