By Mike Blum
Some prominent names in international golf did not receive at least one Christmas present they were hoping for – an invitation to the 2012 Masters.
Multiple major champions Ernie Els and Retief Goosen both failed to end 2011 in the top 50 in the World Rankings, and will need to either win a PGA Tour event or move back into the top 50 by late March to qualify for the 2012 Masters.
Joining Els and Goosen on the outside looking in regarding a coveted Masters invitation is Ryo Ishikawa, Japan’s No. 1 player and one of golf’s mast heralded young stars. Ishikawa was just inside the top 50 at the end of the 2011 golf season, but when the rankings were updated after the last two weeks of the year – when there were no official
tournaments – he fell to 51st.
Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano moved up from 51st to 49th, while Jim Furyk fell two spots from 48th, narrowly holding on to his precarious spot in the top 50. Both players qualified for the Masters by ending 2011 in the top 50, with nine other players gaining invitations on that basis.
Alvaro Quiros won the European Tour finale – the Dubai World Championship – to move from just outside the top 50 to near the top 20 and earn a Masters invitation. Also qualifying for the 2012 Masters were Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Kyung-tae Kim, Sang-moon Bae, Rickie Fowler, Simon Dyson, Francesco Molinari and Miguel Jimenez.
With the latest addition of qualifiers, the Masters now has 92 players – not counting former Masters champions unlikely to compete – in the field as of the end of 2011.
For the players who ended the year without an invitation, there are two ways to qualify for the 2012 Masters. They can win a tournament on the 2012 PGA Tour prior to the Masters (the two events held opposite the early season WGC tournaments excepted), or move into the top 50 after Arnold Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill, played two weeks before the Masters.
Goosen ended 2011 53rd in the rankings, with Els 56th, Italy’s Matteo Manassero 58th and Australians’ Robert Allenby and Greg Chalmers 59th and 60th.
The top two American players currently not in the Masters field are No. 54 Ben Crane and No. 57 Ryan Moore. Other players yet to qualify for the 2012 Masters include Jeff Overton, Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas and J.B. Holmes.
Here is a list of players currently qualified for the 2012 Masters, grouped by their primary invitation criteria:
Masters champions – Charl Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Tiger Woods, Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara, Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize, Craig Stadler, Tom Watson.
U.S. Open champions (2007-11): Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Lucas Glover.
British Open champions (2007-11): Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington.
PGA champions (2007-11): Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer, Y.E. Yang.
Players champions (2009-11): K.J. Choi, Tim Clark, Henrik Stenson.
Top 16, 2011 Masters: Jason Day, Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Luke Donald, Bo Van Pelt, Ryan Palmer, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker, Edoardo Molinari, Brandt Snedeker, Ross Fisher.
Top 8, 2011 U.S. Open: Kevin Chappell, Robert Garrigus, Peter Hanson, Sergio Garcia.
Top 4, 2011 British Open: Dustin Johnson, Thomas Bjorn.
Top 4, 2011 PGA: Jason Dufner, Anders Hansen, Robert Karlsson, David Toms, Scott Verplank.
PGA Tour winners, post 2011 Masters: Brendan Steele, Bubba Watson, Harrison Frazar, Fredrik Jacobson, Nick Watney, Sean O’ Hair, Scott Stallings, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas.
Top 30, 2011 FedExCup: Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Chez Reavie, John Senden, Aaron Baddeley, Gary Woodland, Charles Howell, Mark Wilson, Jonathan Byrd.
Top 30, 2011 PGA Tour money list: Martin Laird, Rory Sabbatini, Kevin Na.
Top 50, World Rankings, end of 2011: Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Alvaro Quiros, Kyung-tae Kim, Sang-moon Bae, Rickie Fowler, Simon Dyson, Francesco Molinari, Miguel Jimenez, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Jim Furyk.
Amateurs: Bryden Macpherson (British), Corben Mills (Public Links), Kelly Kraft (U.S. champion), Patrick Cantlay (U.S. runner-up), Randall Lewis (Mid-Am), Hideki Matsuyama (Asian).