Welcome, friends. You might hear that this week as Jim Nantz cashes some of the largest sports broadcasting checks in history, as he slides into Augusta from Minneapolis. But here at Dawg Sports we actually mean it.
We continue our lead up to the Masters Tournament, and will now give you want you really want: the former Bulldogs who will actually play.
In case you didn’t know, the Masters is an invitational tournament. This means there is a committee that physically invites players based on certain criteria. “Open” tournaments usually means you qualify based on your play. Most PGA Tour tournaments are “open” to current PGA Tour members, but may be limited by the number of spots. And members have a pecking order, based on current money standings, past champion status, and things like that. The Masters is like that, and yet not.
To get an invitation (and they really do mail them out directly to players) you must meet at least one of 19 different criteria:
CATEGORY 1: Masters Tournament Champions
CATEGORY 2: U.S. Open champions (Five-year exemption)
CATEGORY 3: The Open Champions (Five-year exemption)
CATEGORY 4: PGA Champions (Five-year exemption)
CATEGORY 5: The Players Championship Winners (Three-year exemption)
CATEGORY 6: Current Olympic Golf Medalist (One year)
CATEGORY 7-A: Current U.S. Amateur champion
CATEGORY 7-B: Current U.S. Amateur runner-up
CATEGORY 8: Current British Amateur Champion
CATEGORY 9: Current Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion
CATEGORY 10: Current Latin America Amateur Champion
CATEGORY 11: Current U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion
CATEGORY 12: First 12 players (including ties) in previous year’s Masters
CATEGORY 13: First 4 players (including ties) in previous year’s U.S. Open
- CATEGORY 14: First 4 players (including ties) in previous year’s British Open Championship
CATEGORY 15: First 4 players (including ties) in previous year’s PGA Championship
CATEGORY 16: Individual winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from previous Masters to current Masters
CATEGORY 17: Qualifiers for previous year’s season-ending Tour Championship
CATEGORY 18: Top 50 on final Official World Golf Ranking for previous calendar year
CATEGORY 19: The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters Tournament
As you can see, it boils down to being a successful pro in the last year, having been successful in the big tournaments over the last few years, having been successful in prior Masters, or winning certain international or amateur tournaments.
And sure enough, we have a few of those.
Bubba Watson leads the Bulldog contingency having met several criteria. First off, he’s a former Masters Champion. Twice over. Capturing the Green Jacket in 2012 and again in 2014. And since he won 3 times on the PGA Tour last season, he also qualifies via criteria #16, 17, 18, and 19.
Bubba has played 10 previous versions of the Masters, making the cut in 9 of them. He tied for 5th last year, his best showing outside of his 2 victories. He’s only had 17 rounds under par here, 10 of them occurring last year and in his two titles.
Kevin Kisner will also be playing. The Kiz is rock steady, a deadly putter, and a quiet trash talker between dips of Skoal. He also qualifies via multiple routes: #14, 16, 18, and 19. He won the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play just a few weeks ago and should be coming in hot.
Kisner has played 3 previous times (the last 3 years), but grew up and still resides in nearby Aiken, so he has familiarity with the course. Steady as he is, no surprise that he’s made the cut each year. But he hasn’t scored necessarily well, finishing T37, T43, and T28 last year.
And Keith “don’t call me Kevin” Mitchell rounds out our trio. Mitchell is in his 2nd year on the PGA Tour, having graduated from the Web.com Tour after the 2017 season. He had a nice rookie campaign with a couple of top 10 finishes, but obviously broke out with his win at the Honda Classic in March.
Because of that win, Mitchell qualifies under #16, which is a good way to get into the Masters. This is obviously his first trip as a competing pro in Augusta, but he did get to play the course previously while enrolled in Athens, and I believe he has some connections as well.
We’ll be back with more info before Thursday. For now, utilize every device you have to stream practice coverage. And as always...