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Masters will re-open invitations to PGA Tournament winners.
By Bob Harig
Published April 5, 2007
International players outnumber Americans for the first time, with 50 teeing it up today in the 97-player field. "Certainly the golf world has changed its face a little bit," England's David Howell said. "I would imagine that's good for golf, definitely the opportunities." This year there are 76 international players who have PGA Tour cards to just 19 in 2000.
Phil Mickelson again will employ two drivers. He has a square Callaway driver that he will use when he wants to hit the ball high and far, and a regular one for control. Mickelson said he removed a sand wedge from his bag because he never needs it at Augusta. He does have an L-wedge for bunker shots and chip shots around the greens.
The Tiger 10
We asked your opinion Sunday on 10 of Tiger Woods' top accomplishments since winning his first Masters in 1997 and the overwhelming leader was the Tiger Slam, which received 37 percent of the votes. He won four consecutive majors in 2000-01: U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2000, then the 2001 Masters.
MASTERS REOPENS FIELD TO WINNERS OF TOUR EVENTS
AUGUSTA, Ga. - PGA Tour winners are coming back to the Masters.
New Augusta National and Masters chairman Billy Payne announced the move Wednesday and said the criteria would be in place for 2008, meaning next week's Verizon Heritage is the first event in which a winner will qualify automatically.
"I can remember innumerable times where winners of tournament events would be more excited to learn they had qualified for the Masters than the prize money," Payne said. "It's an exciting component only the Masters could offer."
The tournament, however, will not offer spots to winners of the seven tournaments that follow the FedEx Cup playoffs this fall.
As part of the changes, the Masters will invite the 30 who qualify for the Tour Championship and reduce from 40 to 30 the qualifiers from the season-ending money list through the Fall Series events. It also will eliminate the top 10 on the money list from the beginning of the year through the week before the Masters.
Tour winners had qualified from 1972-99, when that gave way to expanded money list criteria and the Official World Golf Ranking.
It has been nearly eight years since a European won a major, a puzzling streak given the success of Europe's Ryder Cup teams. Scotland's Paul Lawrie was the last to win a major at the 1999 British Open. "I just think it's difficult to win one of these things," Ireland's Padraig Harrington said. "But the quicker somebody wins one, maybe that will open the flood gates for a few more Europeans to follow on. The game is becoming more of a global game anyway. Maybe in 10, 15 years' time we won't be talking about players being European or U.S. in terms of their game."
Brett Quigley, 37, made it home to Jupiter in time for the birth of his first child, Lillian Sage Augusta, at 2:55 Wednesday morning. Quigley left the course Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to return Wednesday night. He has a 2:03 p.m. tee time today for his first Masters. ... Rory Sabbatini aced the 115-yard No. 7 and David Toms the 142-yard No. 3, but former champion Mark O'Meara won the par-3 contest at 5 under, one stroke ahead of Zach Johnson. No par-3 winner has won the Masters. ... Former Times columnist Hubert Mizell was among 14 media members given the Masters Major Achievement Award for covering 40 or more Masters. Mizell, who retired from the Times in 2001, has been to 40 straight, including 28 for the Times.