There are some new ways for players to qualify for Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta National Golf Club has made some revisions in ways golfers can qualify for the Masters Tournament.
Among them are changes that will help collegiate golfers and other amateurs get into the prestigious tournament.
Beginning in 2024, the reigning Division I champion will be a listed qualification category to receive a Masters invitation, he said.
That puts into writing what Augusta National did this year in inviting Gordon Sargent to participate.
In addition, future NCAA Division I Women’s individual champions will be invited to compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
He said the additions to Masters qualifications “are in recognition of the impressive quality of today’s collegiate game, and in continued respect to Bobby Jones, who believed in the importance of the best amateurs in the world competing at Augusta National.”
“I think it would be hard not to acknowledge that amateur sports as a whole are evolving,” he said in answer to a question at the news conference. “Certainly ... amateur golf is no exception. But I do still believe that there is an important place for amateur golf in this country. Most golfers are amateurs. Most golfers will not have the ability nor the desire to make golf their profession.”
He said it all goes back to the roots of Augusta National, co-founded by Bobby Jones, a man Ridley called “the greatest amateur of all time.”
“He believed in the importance of amateurs in the Masters. I had the personal experience of enjoying that on three different occasions, and I can tell you that it changed my life. We are very proud and pleased to give this to seven players,” said Ridley, himself a renowned amateur golfer.
“As it relates to the NCAA champion, as I stated, that is a major amateur championship, and I thought it was time that we acknowledged it,” Ridley said. “And we couldn’t be happier to have Gordon here this week. He’s a fine young man and a heck of a player. We are codifying that now going forward.”
Also beginning next year, the Masters Tournament invitation criteria will also include two revisions based on recent changes to the PGA Tour. Those changes are outlined in the new qualification list.
Ridley was asked at the news conference whether there would be any consideration for other pathways for some other world tours, like Europe or Japan.
“Yeah, we actually have discussed that, and that may well be something we do in the future,” Ridley said. “We really want to make sure that the Masters Tournament field is representative of the best players in the world, so we are constantly looking at those possibilities.”
He said Masters organizers have decided for now that the Official World Golf Rankings are a good way to decide which players to invite.
“It’s an objective criteria based on data-driven analytics, and it’s consistently applied,” he said. “I think most would agree it’s a good system.”
Pressed by another questioner about ways to open the Masters to people from around the world –– perhaps from the Japanese Tour, Asian Tour or Australian Tour – Ridley said:
“We have to realize the strength of fields in those other tours. From time to time, you’ll have someone break out, you know, do something significant enough perhaps to get in a higher level tournament, and then the progression continues,” he said.
He said he thinks one of the answers long term is to develop the game in those regions where there are good players.
“The real solution, I think, is to grow the game in these areas, produce better golfers for these tours that will then legitimize consideration of performance on those tours to get into bigger tournaments,” he said.
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