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How to Qualify for the Masters Golf Tournament

By Contributing Writer

From 1923 until his retirement at age 28 in 1930, Bobby Jones dominated golf the way Tiger Woods dominates golf today. He opened the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, in 1933 and hosted the first Augusta National Invitation Tournament in 1934. Today, the annual championship held at Augusta National is called the Masters Tournament. Arguably the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, the Masters is the only "major" held on the same course every year. The course itself is storied and respected, particularly Amen Corner, the notoriously difficult 11th, 12th and 13th holes. There are 18 ways to qualify for the Masters, and if none of those work your only hope is to be an international player who catches the Masters Committee's eye.

Win and the rest will take care of itself.

Place in the top eight of the U.S. Open. There are four "major" golf tournaments. They're called majors because they're recognized as the four times during the year when the best golfers in the world match their skills on some of the best golf courses in the world. The U.S. Open is held on a different course each year by the United States Golf Association (USGA). Win this major and the Masters Committee will send you an invitation for the next five years. Finish in the top eight and you'll get a Masters invitation for the next year.

Win the British Open or the PGA Championship, two more majors. Win either and the Masters Committee will invite you for the next five years. Finish in the top four and you'll get a Masters invitation the next year.

Win the Players Championship. Held at the TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, every year, many people call the Players Championship "the fifth major." Win this one and you're guaranteed an invitation to the Masters for the next three years.

Start young. Winners of the U.S. Amateur Championship, the British Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship all get invited to the Masters the next year.

The runner-up at the U.S. Amateur Championship gets invited to the Masters the next year. This is the only runner-up finish that guarantees a Masters berth.

Win or qualify to play in the Tour Championship. The Tour Championship ends the official PGA Tour season and crowns the FedEx Cup winner, who is awarded the PGA Tour season championship trophy and a $10 million prize. The winner will be invited to the Masters Tournament the next year; so will everyone else who qualified for the tournament, but they don't get the $10 million, of course.

Win any PGA Tour event since the last Masters that awards full FedEx Cup points toward the Tour Championship. Sound confusing? It is. Of the 48 or so official PGA Tour season events, 37 are (arguably) more prestigious. Win one of those and the Masters Committee will smile upon you. You may have to check with the PGA Tour to confirm which tournaments award full FedEx Cup points and, therefore, trigger the Masters Committee's smile muscles.

Finish in the top 30 players on the Final Official PGA Tour Money List for the year, and your Masters invite for the next year is guaranteed.

Finish in the top 50 players of the Final Official World Golf Ranking at the end of the year. The Masters prides itself on gathering the best golf players in the world, not just the United States. This qualifier helps them achieve that goal.

Finish in the top 50 players of the Final Official World Golf Ranking as it stands the week before the Masters and you're in.

This isn't an official qualifier but, if all else fails, the Masters Committee maintains the discretion to invite international players who don't otherwise qualify. Again, they're trying to get the best field of players.

Win the Masters. Winners get a lifetime invitation. The next top 15 finishers come back the next year, so win and the rest takes care of itself.

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