14 players get an early Christmas present: A trip to the Masters
By Stephanie Wei under The Masters


There are many ways to qualify — excuse me, receive an invitation to the hallowed grounds of Augusta National to play in the Masters Tournament every April. Well, actually, there are 19 different ways, one of which is to finish in the top 50 in the Final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year.

Well, finally, there are no more golf tournaments with world ranking points this year — that list was published on Monday, and 14 players were added to the 2014 Masters field. 

Hideki Matsuyama, Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari, Rickie Fowler, Matteo Manassero, David Lynn, Thongchai Jaidee, Peter Hanson, Joost Luiten and Branden Grace secured their invites to Augusta.

The field for the Masters currently consists of 90 players, which is high for the season’s first major, with approximately seven more players than around this time last year.

The two remaining ways to earn a coveted invite are to win a PGA Tour event in 2014 (with the exception of the Puerto Rico Open, which is held opposite to the WGC event at Doral) and to be ranked in the top 50 in the world rankings a week before the the event is scheduled. Oh wait, I guess there’s kind of three — the Ryo Ishikawa special exemption, but since Matsuyama is in the field this year, that probably won’t come into play (but hopefully Ryo will qualify on his own).

With at least 14 opportunities for a player not yet qualified to win on Tour before the Masters, along with the world ranking qualification, the field could reach 100 for the first time in almost half a century. The last time more than 100 players competed at Augusta in April was in 1966 with 103.

The larger than normal field accounts for the thriving state of the PGA Tour, as well as the game globally — only three of the 14 that got in through the end-of-the-year OWGR played full-time in the States. Last year there were 14 first-time winners on Tour. In other words, parity is the name of the game at the moment. And if it makes things more competitive, then that’s just delightful for everyone (except for the guys who can’t cut it).

I’m still waiting on ANGC to send me the full list of the current field list, but Ryan Ballengee did the grunt work and compiled it on his site, so check it out there.

By the way, only 115 days until the Masters!!!