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Augusta Tweaks Masters Criteria

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The Masters has restored some drama to the first three months of the PGA Tour.
 
Augusta National expanded its qualification criteria for the Masters on Tuesday by taking more players from next year's PGA Tour money list and giving them more time to earn a trip down Magnolia Lane.
 
The top 10 players on the 2003 money list through The Players Championship will be eligible for the Masters. Previously, the Masters took only the top three players on the money list that was published four weeks before the tournament, usually after Doral.
 
The same goes for the world ranking.
 
Instead of taking the top 50 from the ranking published four weeks before the Masters, the cutoff will be one week (Players Championship).
 
'I think the quality of our field will be enhanced by these changes,'' chairman Hootie Johnson said. 'In both instances, players can qualify within one week of the tournament. This will ensure that the best players at that time are in the Masters.''
 
The Masters was criticized in 1999 when it decided to do away with the PGA Tour winners category, instead relying more heavily on the world ranking and the money list.
 
The change eliminated the suspense from the first three months on tour, when the most meaningful aspect of winning for some players was getting into the Masters.