Fowler, O’Hair Among 13 Players to Get 2011 Masters Nod
By Stephanie Wei under The Masters

Rickie Fowler has earned his first trip to Augusta in April. Fowler and Sean O’Hair are the only Americans in the group of 13 players that have qualified for The Masters through the world rankings.

Masters invites are doled out to players ranked in the top 50 of the Official Golf World Ranking (and previously not qualified) at the end of the year. Since there are no more tournaments left, the standings are now final. This avenue is mostly targeted at international players, who are not PGA Tour members and don’t have as many opportunities to qualify, such as winning a Tour event or getting into the Tour Championship. (I think it’s a little bogus that you get a Masters invite if you reach the Tour Championship, but I guess that only applies to a few people that weren’t already exempt.)

O’Hair kicked off the year ranked No. 15 in the world, but had a mediocre season compared to 2009. Although he had three top-10s, he didn’t win or reach the Tour Championship. O’Hair finished the year at No. 34 in the world rankings. Meanwhile, Fowler had a great rookie year, with seven top-tens, including two runner-up finishes. He also was selected to play in the Ryder Cup as one of Corey Pavin’s captain’s picks. At Celtic Manor, Fowler staged an unbelievable comeback against Edoardo Molinari in the singles and won the last four holes to halve the match.

The other 11 international players to earn an invitation to Augusta next April are the Brothers Molinari (Edoardo, No. 18 and Francesco, No. 15), Robert Karlsson (No. 17), Kyung-Tae Kim (No. 29), Ross Fisher (No. 33), Charl Schwartzel (No. 34), Ryo Ishikawa (No. 36), Peter Hanson (No. 40), Yuta Ikeda (No. 41), Hiroyuki Fujita (No. 48), Alvaro Quiros (No. 49).

Obviously, The Masters is still four months (a lifetime!) away, but I already can’t wait. Too early to begin the countdown? Naw. 105 days ’til Augusta!