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Masters rules official steps down

Will Nicholson, chairman of the U.S. Masters competition and rules committees, has retired from both roles, tournament officials said Wednesday.

Nicholson, 77, will be replaced by Fred Ridley, who previously served as chairman of the cup and tee marker placement committee.

"Will has done an outstanding job as the chairman of the competition committees and rules," Augusta National Golf Club chairman Hootie Johnson said in a statement.

"The Masters owes him a debt of gratitude for his many years of tireless and exemplary service."

Nicholson, who officiated at his final Masters earlier this month when American Phil Mickelson won the title for the second time in three years, has served on the tournament's rules committee since 1974.

He became rules chairman in 1990 and was made chairman of the competition committees in 1992.

"It has been a great experience coordinating the competition at the Masters," said Nicholson, who will now serve on the special assignments committee, assisting the chairman when needed.

"However, after 15 years the time has come to step aside.

"I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work and be associated with many outstanding individuals."

Left-hander Mickelson, whose two-stroke victory at Augusta National on April 9 earned him the third major title of his career, was sorry to hear Nicholson was stepping down.

"I've really enjoyed dealing with Will in the past," Mickelson told a teleconference as he prepared for this week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

"He has been fun and funny, enjoyable to be around and very knowledgeable in running the tournament and the rules."

The Masters, the first of the year's four major championships, takes place in Augusta, Georgia each April.



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