With just 87 players competing this past April, the Masters had its smallest field since 1997. As officials at Augusta National Golf Club prepare to send out their initial invitations for 2019 in the next few weeks – cue the social-media posts from tour pros overjoyed with what just came in their letterboxes – the upcoming tournament could wind up being a similarly small affair.
Through the end of the US PGA Tour’s early-season schedule, 66 players have earned their way into the field under the Masters’ various qualifying categories (subtracting 13 past champions who no longer compete in the tournament). Spots remain for anyone in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of 2018 who has not already qualified. Using the most recent ranking, 13 players would be added to the invite list. That number could increase depending on movement over the next five weeks – six players from 51st to 60th in the world ranking, including Brian Harman and Daniel Berger, are on the outside looking in – but using 13 for our purposes here, that gets the field to 79.
There remain a few ways others can qualify in the new year. The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship, held in January, gets in, as does any winner of a US Tour event before the Masters in 2019 who hasn’t already qualified gets in, too. However, just two players – Ted Potter Jnr and Ian Poulter – won 2018 tour events who weren’t already headed to Augusta.
The top 50 players in the world ranking the week prior to the Masters also get in. In 2018, that added four more players. So take the seven that joined the 2018 field between January and April and carry that over to this year and you get to 86 players, matching 1994, 1995 and 1997 as the smallest in the past 25 years.
There is also the possibility of Augusta National offering special invitations to the field for international players. The club extended one in 2018 to India’s Shubhankar Sharma. With the potential of having room in the field to do the same in 2019, may we be the first to
plead request the folks at Augusta National consider offering South Korea’s Ho-Sung Choi, winner last week at the Casio World Open in Japan and owner of the wildest swing of any tour pro we can remember, a chance to take his talents to Georgia next April.
2019 Masters Tournament field, as of November 27
Devon Bling (a)
Victor Hovland (a)
Charles Howell III
Takumi Kanaya (a)
Si Woo Kim
Kevin O’Connell (a)
Jose Maria Olazabal
Jovan Rebula (a)