Masters Field Taking Shape
Boo, the invitation, not the check, is in the mail.
Boo Weekley has been so busy building a house he hasn't bothered checking the mail. He might want to keep alert the next few weeks for a white envelope with a return address of Augusta, Ga.
With the final world ranking published Monday, Masters invitations will be in the mail soon.
"I've got to have that to get in?" Weekley asked.
He was pleased to hear the invitation was a mere formality, not to mention a souvenir like no other.
Weekley is among 14 players who will be playing the Masters for the first time, and the invitation traditionally comes the final two weeks of the year, a sweet reminder of what the new season holds.
The Masters takes the top 50 from the world ranking at the end of 2007, and because there are no golf tournaments the rest of the year, 11 players who were not previously eligible were added to the field Monday.
Leading the way was Henrik Stenson at No. 16, followed by 10 others from abroad: Trevor Immelman, Lee Westwood, Toru Taniguchi, Nick O'Hern, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Shingo Katayama, Robert Karlsson, Richard Sterne, Soren Hansen and Anders Hansen.
There are sure to be some complaints about some of the international players getting into the Masters, especially Anders Hansen.
He took up PGA Tour membership this year, and in 17 starts, he made only 10 cuts and failed to record a top 10. But he finished the year at No. 50 from his victory in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where Hansen beat the likes of Angel Cabrera and Justin Rose, and two other top 5s on the European Tour.
Rod Pampling, the Australian who plays primarily on the PGA Tour, needed no worse than fifth in the Australian Open last week to get into the top 50, but he tied for seventh and slipped one spot to No. 52.
Not to worry -- yet.
Augusta National will take the top 50 from the world ranking published March 31, one week before the Masters. That gives extra time for players like Pampling, Colin Montgomerie (No. 57) and Davis Love III (No. 67). The Masters also will take winners from every PGA Tour event, except for the two in Mexico and Puerto Rico held opposite World Golf Championships.
With 82 players already qualified (and expected to compete), the field likely will be around 90 to 95, just the size the Masters likes.
One thing that will be missing is a full crop of amateurs. Colt Knost won the U.S. Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Amateur, but gave up his spot in the Masters when he turned pro. Knost then failed to secure even a Nationwide Tour card at Q-school.
That leaves three amateurs at the Masters, the fewest since there were three in 1942, the year before the Masters took a three-year break because of World War II.
There will be two Watsons -- past champion Tom Watson and big-hitting Bubba Watson. There will be two Hansens -- Soren and Anders, both from Denmark, no relation.
But there will be only one Boo.
Weekley has become a kind of cult hero the past year with his homespun humor, simple pleasures and solid game. He was among the first to qualify by winning the Verizon Heritage a week after the Masters, and that was the start of a big year. Weekley finished 23rd on the money list, joining high school buddy Heath Slocum at the World Cup in China.
But this is no time to rest or reflect, much less hunt and fish.
"Between my wife and little boy and all of us trying to build this house, I might not have time to check the mail," Weekley said Monday.
But he is excited about returning to Augusta National. Turns out Weekley was invited to play some years ago through an elderly gentleman who knew a member.
"We got six holes in and it started raining," he said.
He'll be in good company when the 72nd Masters is held April 10-13. The defending champion is Zach Johnson, with Tiger Woods again the favorite to capture his fifth green jacket.
Right now, Weekley just wants to finish building his house.