While the field is smaller than that of other major tournaments, the importance of the US Masters in the golfing calendar as the event to ring in the season makes it a keen one to watch for fans of the game. But with a smaller field and the fact that entrants need to qualify for entry, it can mean some uncertainty about who you can expect to see playing. With the tournament a whole month away, here are a few likely candidates. And if you think any of them have a good chance of winning, why not check out the US Masters 2019 odds and see what the bookies think.
In order to receive an invitation for the Masters you will generally need to hit one of their 18 qualifying criteria. While the event is officially an invitation only affair, the criteria are a major part of the decision-making process and affects the entire event. It’s possible for a player to fill multiple categories but they’ll be classified by the first one they qualify for. These categories are:
1. Past Masters Champions
2. Last five U.S. Open Champions
3. Last five Open Champions
4. Last five PGA Champions
5. Last three winners of The Players Championship
6. Top two finishers in the 2018 U.S. Amateur
7. Winner of the 2018 Amateur Championship
8. Winner of the 2018 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
9. Winner of the 2018 U.S. Mid-Amateur
10. Winner of the 2019 Latin America Amateur Championship
11. The top 12 finishers and ties in the 2018 Masters Tournament
12. Top 4 finishers and ties in the 2018 U.S. Open
13. Top 4 finishers and ties in the 2018 Open Championship
14. Top 4 finishers and ties in the 2018 PGA Championship
15. Winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the FedEx Cup, between the 2018 Masters Tournament and the 2019 Masters Tournament
16. All players qualifying for the 2018 edition of The Tour Championship
17. Top 50 on the final 2018 Official World Golf Ranking list
18. Top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking list on April 1, 2019
As you can probably tell, there are a fair few crossovers here – a prime example, Tiger Woods (who spent a lot of 2018 proving he still has what it takes) is both a past Masters Champion and one of the top 4 finishers in the 2018 PGA Championship as well as one of the Top 50 on the final 2018 Official World Golf Ranking lists. While this narrows the field, it is possible to receive an invitation without meeting any of the criteria, as has happened with Shugo Imahira this year.
Of the golfers who meet the criteria, there are a few famous names and faces such as Rory McIlroy who many see as a favourite, Tiger Woods who we mentioned earlier and could be going for his fifth green jacket, and Dustin Johnson, coming fresh off a victory over McIlroy at the WGC Mexico Championship. Whoever the winner ends up being, the current pool sits at 83 who meet the criteria ahead of the Official World Golf Ranking list being revealed on the first of April.
Who do you think is going to win this year? Let us know in the comments below!