The Wolverine

January 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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M By John Borton ichigan golfers stood on the first tee at the legendary Cypress Point Golf Course, the stunning views at the western tip of California's Monterey Peninsula shrouded temporarily by the fog rolling in off the Pacific Ocean. The Wolverines aren't usually nervous prior to a tournament, but this was a little different. They found themselves among some of the nation's toughest competition, at the hallowed property, in the invitation-only Stanford Classic at Cypress Point this past fall. "I don't think it was the competition so much, but knowing what course they were at, where they were about to play, and what it all meant, you could kind of see in their faces that it was a totally different experience than anything we'd had before," Michigan head coach Chris Whitten noted. "I know that was a once-in-a-lifetime tournament for all of those guys." The Michigan difference, in this case, happened to involve the president of Cypress Point. That's Tony Ridder, of Knight Ridder publishing fame, who happens to be a graduate of the University of Michigan. Ridder came to Michigan in the fall of 1958, and left with an economics degree in the spring of 1962. He headed for Aberdeen, S. D., as a newspaper reporter, but it didn't take long for him to begin rocketing skyward in the media world. He eventually entered the business side of newspaper publishing at the Pasadena Star News, and in 1977 became publisher of the San Jose Mercury News. In 1986, he moved to Miami and became president of Knight-Ridder's newspaper division. Ridder took over as chairman and CEO of the company — which owned the Detroit Free Press — in 1995. He never forgot his alma mater along the way, harkening back to trying out for the freshman golf team, playing intramural hockey and meeting people like iconic hockey coach Red Berenson. "I gave money to the Yost project, and I was actually on the freshman team with Red for a few weeks until it was disbanded for financial reasons," Ridder recalled. "We had these oneon-ones. He doesn't remember that, but I do." An avid golfer, Ridder eventually settled back on the West Coast, and 42  the wolverine    January 2013 Ridder (third from left), a U-M alum and the president of Cypress Point Golf Course, hosted the Wolverines when they were on the West Coast to take part in the Stanford Classic at Cypress Point Oct. 29-30. photo courtesy michigan athletic media relations Eagle-Eyed Benefactor Tony Ridder Provides A Fair Way Forward For U-M Golf remains deeply involved in the golf mecca spread across one of the nation's most beautiful stretches of real estate. He paved the way for the Wolverines to come out there even before they played in the Stanford Classic. "Two years ago, I invited the Michigan golf team to come out to the West Coast," Ridder said. "They were going to play in a tournament at Fresno State. I arranged for them to play other courses, and I played with them. "We played the San Francisco Golf Club on Wednesday. We played Pebble Beach on Thursday, Cypress Point on Friday and Spyglass on Saturday. I put them up — half of them at my house and half of them at Cypress Point. I had some history with the golf team." Ridder and his late wife, Connie, also had a hand in the future of Michigan golf. Together, they made a $500,000 contribution to Michigan's $2.5 million Weisfeld Family Golf Center at the University of Michigan Golf Course. The Ridder name appears on the indoor short-game area of the golf center. When the Wolverines come out putting and chipping well, they have the Ridders, in part, to thank. The president of Cypress Point continues to thank Michigan. Had he not ventured to the Ann Arbor campus, he'd have missed an irreplaceable blessing in his life. Ridder became emotional when speaking about Connie, the former Central U.S. Ski Champion from Traverse City, whom he married in their junior year at Michigan. She passed away in August 2011. "Michigan is very important to me," Ridder said. "It's where I met my wife. We were married for 51 years. Michigan is so very important to me, for that reason, among so many others. If I hadn't gone to Michigan, I'd have never met my wife."

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