JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ernie Els and Retief Goosen enter the 2012 season without any assurances of playing in the Masters.
The field for the Masters took shape Monday after the final official week of golf tournaments around the world. Among the criteria for an invitation is to be among the top 50 in the world ranking at the end of the season.
Els, a three-time major champion who has suffered plenty of heartaches at Augusta National, fell to No. 56 in the final ranking. Els has been eligible for the Masters every year since his debut in 1994. Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open champion, is at No. 53.
Jim Furyk narrowly claimed a spot in the Masters, to be played April 5-8, when he finished at No. 50. Furyk began the year at No. 5 in the world.
Others who got into the Masters through the world ranking were Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Alvaro Quiros, K.T. Kim, Simon Dyson,Sang-moon Bae, Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
Els and Goosen still can get in by winning a PGA Tour event before the Masters (except those tournaments held opposite World Golf Championships), or by getting into the top 50 in the world ranking published the week before the Masters.
Others who have yet to qualify include Ryo Ishikawa (No. 51),Ben Crane (No. 54), Ryan Moore (No. 57), Matteo Manassero (No. 58) and Robert Allenby (No. 59). Further down the ranking are Anthony Kim (No. 75) and Camilo Villegas (No. 89).
The field for the 77th Masters is at least 91 players, depending on how many former champions choose to compete. The Masters has the smallest field of the four majors, and the club prefers that no more than 100 players tee it up.
A year ago, the field going into the new season also was at 91 players, and there were 99 players in the final field. The last time the Masters field topped 100 players was in 1966, when there were 103 competitors.