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Fall Series win worth a trip to the Masters

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Should winners of PGA Tour events in the Fall Series get an invitation to compete in the following year's Masters Tournament? Senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell offer their takes. 

By REX HOGGARD

Charles Howell III’s voice may have been the loudest, given his childhood connection to the Masters as an Augusta, Ga., native, but he wasn’t alone.

Given the chance, most players would agree with CHIII’s assessment that not giving winners of Fall Series events exemptions into the Masters isn’t “the best decision.”

We would agree, but not because it only serves to expand the gulf between the Tour’s haves and have nots and cheapens the product – the circuit’s media sound bite is not “Some of these guys are good” – but because it’s the right thing to do. Just check the math.

It’s not often that the convoluted arithmetic of the World Golf Ranking can serve as a voice of reason, but in the debate over the imaginary line between the fall and the fortunate it is the ultimate arbiter.

Consider that Arjun Atwal, winner of the Wyndham Championship, the final regular-season event worth a Masters invitation, earned 28 world ranking points for his triumph, while Heath Slocum, who won the Fall’s McGladrey Classic, earned 30 points for his fourth Tour title.

Even if the world ranking math is less than convincing, the quality of the field, if not the dramatics of last week’s finish at the Frys.com Open, is worth a trip down Magnolia Lane.

By RANDALL MELL

Yes ... To the Par 3 Contest.

But not to the year’s first major championship.

Sorry, fellas. Winning a PGA Tour event, any PGA Tour event, is a treasured feat, but major championships are measures of who’s the best of the best.

The Fall Series, fair or not, feels like the PGA Tour’s demolition derby, where there’s more focus on crashing than winning, in seeing who wrecks and who doesn’t in a quest to keep their PGA Tour cards.

The emphasis isn’t so much on winners as survivors with the best storylines focusing on who’s on the bubble on the top-125 and top-150 money lists.

It’s more than a perception.

Matt Kuchar played in the McGladrey Classic, but he’s the only top-10 player in the world to compete in a Fall Series event this year. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk won’t play in any. If the season’s over in their eyes, it’s pretty much over for all fans apart from the devoted core.

The intensity might be ratcheting up for the rank and file, but it’s turned off for the best of the best.