2006 Masters Invitations Sent Out

By Associated PressDecember 19, 2005, 5:00 pm
It's a holiday tradition like no other: Masters invitations are in the mail.
 
The majority of the field for the 70th Masters was set Monday when the final world golf ranking of the year was published. Invitations were extended to 99 players, although eight are former Masters champions who are not planning to compete, including Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
 
Sixteen players will be making their Masters debut, including Sean O'Hair, Tour Championship winner Bart Bryant and Augusta resident Vaughn Taylor. They should be careful opening the mail this week, because the invitations are not trimmed in gold, much less green.
 
'When I got my first invitation in the mail, I almost threw it away because I didn't know what it was,' Charles Howell III said Monday, recalling the letter he received in 2002. 'It doesn't stand out at all. It's a plain, normal white envelope. Doesn't say Augusta National, no return address. And once I opened it, well, now it's in a frame in my office. My first invitation to the Masters.'
 
Stewart Cink (No. 27) and John Daly (No. 29) became the first Americans in three years to earn a trip to Augusta National by finishing among the top 50 in the world. Nine other players also qualified through the ranking, including Masters newcomer Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Robert Allenby, who improved some 30 spots in three weeks by becoming the first player to capture the Australian Open, Australian PGA and Australian Masters in the same year.
 
The rest of the field was established earlier through criteria such as major champions over the past five years, top finishers from the majors in 2005 and the top 40 on the PGA Tour money list.
 
The final field will be determined March 27, the Monday after The Players Championship. Players can still get in if they are in the top 50 in the world, or the top 10 on the current PGA Tour money list. Among those who finished outside the top 50 were Stephen Ames (No. 51) and Paul Casey (No. 52).
 
The Masters revamped its criteria in 2000 to no longer give PGA Tour winners an automatic invitation, instead rewarding consistent play through the world ranking the PGA Tour money list. Six players who won PGA Tour events are not yet eligible - Tim Petrovic, Brad Faxon, Jason Gore, Robert Gamez, Wes Short Jr. and Heath Slocum.
 
Gamez (Texas Open) and Slocum (Southern Farm Bureau Classic) won tournaments held the same week as the Presidents Cup and the Tour Championship. Faxon finished 45th on the money list, and most likely would have been in the top 40 except for having season-ending knee surgery in September.
 
Gore did not join the tour until September.
 
The players will see an Augusta National course that has been lengthened again, the biggest changes coming at the par-3 fourth (now 245 yards) and the par-4 seventh, which has a tee moved 40 yards back.
 
'If this is the first time you saw it, you wouldn't think much about it,' said Howell, who played Augusta National over the weekend. 'But I think back to when Tiger (Woods) won in '97, it's not even the same golf course.'
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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.