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Masters chairman on Caitlin Clark: ‘We need more unicorns’

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Lottie Woad of England is presented with the trophy by Fred Ridley The Chairman of The Augusta National Golf Club after her one-shot win in the final round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur at Augusta National Golf Club on April 06, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Lottie Woad of England is presented with the trophy by Fred Ridley, chairman of The Augusta National Golf Club, after her one-shot win in the final round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur at Augusta National Golf Club on April 06, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The powers-that-be at Augusta National know a GOAT when they see one, whether they’re wearing red and black on Sunday or black and gold in Iowa.

Caitin Clark won’t be playing in the Masters anytime soon — that’s one of the few endeavors where she might actually struggle a bit — but the marks she set during her college career and recent run through the women’s NCAA tournament have inspired the green jackets who run Augusta.

“The way Caitlin plays the game, her passion, her energy,” Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National, said Wednesday, “it really just captures the imagination of the fans.” Clark and Iowa lost to South Carolina on Sunday in the women’s NCAA basketball championship, a phenomenally popular game watched by more than 18 million people.

Ridley knows exactly how a transformative figure — a “unicorn,” in his and many others’ words — can revolutionize an entire sport. Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997 at age 21 — a year younger than Clark is now — and golf hasn’t been the same since.

“We need more unicorns,” Ridley added, and he wasn’t just talking about women’s basketball.

“We hope that more people will come along like [Clark],” he said, “and certainly we hope that people will come along in golf.”

If and when a Clark-esque unicorn does come along in the world of golf, she’ll likely play at Augusta National’s 5-year-old Women’s Amateur tournament. Past participants in the ANWA have already won 13 LPGA events, 27 Ladies European Tour events and three majors.

“For the time being anyway, Caitlin Clark is an amateur. She's a collegiate player,” Ridley said. “We think that the young women who play here in the Augusta National Women's Amateur have that same capability. … We hope that we'll continue to have compelling individuals come through here to play in our tournament.”