Friday, April 22, 2011
Please, Augusta, Don't Take Away the Winners Invite to the Masters
I don't beg much, mostly because I see where it gets you, but this is one of those times. The Masters, my favorite golf tournament of the year, is trying to find a way to trim their ever-growing field. While it seems that the Masters is always an event that has a petite field perfect for Augusta National, 99 players were in the 2011 field, and some of the green jackets didn't love that.
Why? Because, as Ballengee points out, 10 players who otherwise wouldn't have made it into the Masters field won on the PGA Tour last season, and were given an automatic invite. That's why the idea to toss the automatic invite for winners could happen, and here is why I wish they'd figure out another way.
First, like making it to the finals of the U.S. Amateur, when you win on tour, a lot of things happen, but knowing you'll be flying to Augusta, Georgia in April has to rank among the most exciting. You are going to play the Masters no matter what, and that's a beautiful addition to an already lucrative week for a PGA Tour winner.
Also, it brings in some names that otherwise wouldn't make the field, and they're being honored for actually winning. Here are some names that didn't win a PGA Tour event in 2010; Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, and Nick Watney, just to name a few. These are top notch golfers, but being able to close out a golf tournament, to play well from the first tee to the last putt, is a tough thing to do. Don't believe me? Look at some of the biggest names in golf and see how many times they've actually won.
Jim Furyk has 16 career PGA Tour victories. Steve Stricker has nine. Anthony Kim has three. Rory McIlroy has one.
It isn't easy to win, and when you do, you should be allowed in this type of field.
It is too beautiful of a tradition to trash. So what if a few more players join the field at Augusta National? As we've seen with the addition of EA Sports and Masters live, the more, the merrier.