FanPost

So you want to play Augusta National? Here's how some UGA boys punched their tickets.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports


First an introduction: The Masters is an invitation-only golf tournament held the first full week of April (or the 2nd Sunday, or something like that). It is played on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club just off I-20 and Washington Road in Augusta, Georgia. If these first two sentences were new information to you, then bless your heart and welcome aboard. If, like most, this was as much of an understatement as to the wonders of The Masters as can be encapsulated on a sports blog as you can possibly imagine, then welcome to our 2nd favorite time of year - the artificial and Bobby Jones-created advent of Spring - MASTERS WEEK!! (okay, that doesn't start until Monday, April 6th, but still...)

This will be mostly about which former UGA golfers qualified for Augusta National (I gave you a sneak peak in December). But I can talk about this for ages, and feel somewhat qualified to do so. I'd love to hear questions, comments, funny stories, anything Masters-related in the comments section below. Fire at will - the collective DawgSports Nation has some pretty sharp minds and pretty decent golfers among us so let's get fired up and finish the drill!!!! Oh, wait... that's right... G-Day is the same day as the 3rd round of The Masters and I just plumb let those two get twisted in my wee brain. My apologies, and back to the golf....

Here's how you can get an invitation to play in The Masters (though just getting to play Augusta National is reward enough). Credit to masters.com for the list, but it is pretty easily searchable and in the public domain:

  1. Masters Tournament Champions (Lifetime)
  2. US Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
  3. British Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
  4. PGA Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
  5. Winners of The Players Championship (Three years)
  6. Current US Amateur Champion (6-A) (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year) and the runner-up (6-B) to the current US Amateur Champion
  7. Current British Amateur Champion (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year)
  8. Current Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion
  9. Current Latin America Amateur Champion
  10. Current US Amateur Public Links Champion
  11. Current US Mid-Amateur Champion
  12. The first 12 players, including ties, in the previous year's Masters Tournament
  13. The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's US Open Championship
  14. The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's British Open Championship
  15. The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's PGA Championship
  16. Winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from previous Masters to current Masters
  17. Those qualifying for the previous year's season-ending Tour Championship
  18. The 50 leaders on the Final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year
  19. The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters Tournament

The qualifying rules have changed over the years, but it's essentially always been: win a recent Tour event, place well in a major, win a big amateur tourney (Mid-Am, US Am, etc.) or be a favorite of the Masters committee. Okay, not really on that last one, but I swear these folks do what they want and "not at the point of a bayonnette" if you get my drift. They were well ahead of the curve and have always invited a large international contingent, especially in Asia. If you attend, there are more Asian-based media than from anywhere else - it is a testament as to how prestigious the tournament is and to its global reach and inclusiveness of other, minor golf tours.

It is expected that the field will be 100 or barely over, and the Masters Tournament committee has already publicly stated that they don't like a field this big and will be reviewing qualifying after this year. They've kept the number around 90-95 on purpose - it suits the product they want to present. For a comparison, the other majors have 156 golfers, as do most other tournaments. The Masters likes to keep it smaller, more intimate, more prestigious. And as the field is already right at 100, and between 2-4 more golfers can qualify based on results the next two weeks, they're getting nervous. 6 of this year's PGA Tour winners qualified for this year's Masters, and are first time invitees due to their win, so that helped bloat the numbers. They've previously relied on the same group making up the field every year, with just a sprinkling of some new faces from here and abroad. Expect changes for 2016.

For 2015, here are the UGA players that have qualified and will be teeing it up Thursday April 9th (and hopefully Saturday, April 11th when I will be in attendance - HA! Jealous?):

Bubba Watson: Two-time winner of The Masters, so he's exempt for life. Well, kinda for life. But he also qualified by winning a tournament in November, qualified for last year's Tour Championship, and currently in Top 50.

Brendon Todd: Won a tournament last summer, and qualified for last year's Tour Championship.

Chris Kirk: same as Todd above, but also is in world Top 50.

Russell Henley: his last Tour win was before last years Masters, but he qualified for the season-ending Tour Championship.

Brian Harman: Brian won the John Deere Classic in August and thus he plays in his first Masters in 2015.

Erik Compton: Erik is qualified via his 2nd place finish at last June's US Open in Pinehurst, where he showed himself admirably.

Some perspective: Rory McIlroy, world's #1 golfer, qualifed 7 different ways. Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler qualified 5 ways. Tiger Woods, looking to make his return to pro golf for the 10th time, only qualified 3 ways (though to be fair, I think he set a record in 2009 for qualifying like 10 different ways).

On the Outside Looking In:

Harris English - Has the best chance, as he's #52 in the world right now. If he plays this week and next (at Shell Houston Open), he has a chance to qualify via world rankings. But with only two tournaments, this means a top 10 finish in the least. Or he can win one of these last two weeks which makes you change your travel plans in a hurry.

Hudson Swafford -so far down the list, he has to win this week or next.

Kevin Kisner - see Swafford above.

Ryuji Imada - See above. Only has temporary status on Tour, and I don't think he's entered this week or next.

There are tons of things to discuss and discover such as the Par 3 tournament, the course condition, the elevation changes, the amenities, the egg-salad sandwiches, John Daly at the Hooters down the road (seriously), the free parking, the media, the cabins, the vistas, the best spots for viewing, etc. Like I said, I'd love to have discussion on any or all, and I'm glad to research any questions on players or pro golf in general.

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