Augusta National refusing to clarify Masters cutoff

Augusta National will not commit to advising if it will honour a 2020 Masters invitation to those players currently inside the top-50 on the World Rankings as of Monday morning March 30th (UK time).

The Georgia-based Masters organising club was approached for further comment.

Augusta National Augusta National

“Unfortunately, it would be premature to share our thinking on the reschedule or the field. We will make sure to share this information as soon as it becomes available.”

Amongst those affected is Graeme McDowell, who should be waking-up in his Florida home this week with confirmation that he is returning to the Masters for the first time since 2016.

The Northern Irishman is currently ranked 49th in the world and is thereby exempt for the 2020 Masters. However, the worldwide deadly Coronavirus has changed everything sending the world into ‘lock-down’ mode.

In any other year, McDowell would have now received a letter at his Lake Nona residence postmarked ‘Augusta, GA’.

Inside the envelope, as has long been the tradition with Augusta National, is a personalised invitation just as Augusta National co-founder Bobby Jones had first wished, to tee-up in this year’s Masters.

Scotland’s Sandy Lyle received his first Masters invitation in 1980 and in just his seventh appearance he was fitted the famed members green jacket.

And even now as a past champion, Lyle is the recipient each year of a mailed invitation with this year to mark his 39th Masters.

“It is one of those traditions Augusta does so well. Even though I’ve been attending the Masters since I was 22-years of age there’s still that sense of excitement,” said Lyle.

“All the former champions are the same. You know you’re on the mailing list but to get that letter in the post each year does make the Masters extra special.”

However the ‘tradition’ has been stopped in its tracks by this year’s pandemic.

With the Masters postponed until later this year the big question is will those inside the top-50 on March 30, receive an invitation in what many are predicting will be the 8-11 October rescheduling of the Masters?

The men’s World Rankings were suspended on March 16th with just four players inside the top-50 but not yet officially exempt for the Masters.

The four are the Americans Colin Morikawa (44th) and Scottie Scheffler (45th) along with newly-engaged South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout (47th) and McDowell (49th).

Organisers of the Summer Olympics have set an example in postponing the 32nd Olympiad to 2021 and in the process guaranteeing to honour all 11,091 (expected) athletes who were due to Japan to be eligible to now compete in 2021.

In golf, it would mean a UK gold team featuring 2016 Olympic Gold medal winning Justin Rose teaming with Tommy Fleetwood.

“It’s something that’s been an amazing gift to my career and to be announced on the first tee for so long as the Olympic champion is something special and I get it for an extra year now,” said Rose.

“Another year’s bragging rights which is really going to frustrate my fellow pros. I think they were getting pretty fed up with it to be honest!”