The 2019 US Masters is only days away – held at the famed Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, April 11-14. A little like winning a golden ticket to tour Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, the Masters is the most exclusive tournament in World golf and at this stage just over eighty players have qualified to play this year, including four Australians.
So how do you get a chance to stroll (or drive) down Magnolia Drive and tee off in the 83rd staging of the Masters in 2019?
There are 19 separate qualification criteria, all listed at the end of this article. The best way to get an invitation is to win the event – this gives you a lifetime exemption. Adam Scott, the 2013 champion, is the only Australian to date that has won the Masters and he goes into this year’s tournament in good form and a real chance to take home a second green jacket. Ian Woosnam is playing via the same exemption and with no disrespect there’s no way he’d be teeing it up at Augusta these days in any other way.
Jason Day is Australia’s second representative. He qualifies via four categories – one as a PGA Champion of the past five years (category 4). He also qualifies under categories 16, 17 and 18. However, his campaign is under a new cloud after a back problem flared during his first-round loss to Jim Furyk at the World Golf Championships-Match Play. The Australian former world No. 1 was noticeably troubled in the last few holes at Austin Country Club on Wednesday.
He received medical treatment on his back immediately after the match and is a concern, not only for the remainder of the match play event in Texas but also the Masters at Augusta National in two weeks.
Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith are both in the field too – both in the Top 50 World rankings (criteria 18) from the previous year.
With most of the field set, the only way to break into the field now is by winning a PGA Tour event with full point allocation from previous Masters to the current Masters – meaning the Valero Texas Open in San Antonia April 4-7 is the very last chance to make the cut. Imagine needing to make a curly 12 footer, knowing if it rolls in you roll onto the Masters!
Many of the names playing you will recognised by virtue that they are the best in the World, however the event is quirky. Do you know Norway’s Viktor Hovland? He slips into the field via criteria 7. I wouldn’t have thought many know American Kevin O’Connell either (category 11), or South African Jovan Rebula (category 8). But it doesn’t matter how you get there – let’s just hope one of our four Australian representatives lead after the 72nd hole to bring home golf’s Holy Grail for a second time.
Below are the 19 different categories in which a player may qualify for the Masters Tournament.
1. Masters Tournament champions (Lifetime)
2. U.S. Open champions (Honorary, non-competing after five years)
3. British Open champions (Honorary, non-competing after five years)
4. PGA champions (Honorary, non-competing after five years)
5. Winners of The Players Championship (Three years)
6. Current Olympic Gold Medalist
7. Current U.S. Amateur champion (7-A) (Honorary, non-competing after one year) and the runner-up (7-B) to the current U.S. Amateur champion
8. Current British Amateur champion (Honorary, non-competing after one year)
9. Current Asia-Pacific Amateur champion
10. Current Latin America Amateur champion
11. Current U.S. Mid-Amateur champion
12. The first 12 players, including ties, in the previous year’s Masters Tournament
13. The first four players, including ties, in the previous year’s U.S. Open
14. The first four players, including ties, in the previous year’s British Open
15. The first four players, including ties, in the previous year’s PGA Championship
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
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