Masters gives out two special invites, including one for the first time in more than two decades
Vanderbilt sophomore Gordon Sargent is the first amateur to accept a Masters special invitation since 2000.
The field for the 2023 Masters got a little bigger on Thursday with two golfers accepting special invitations.
Augusta National Golf Club announced that amateur Gordon Sargent and Japan Tour pro Kazuki Higa will play in this year's tournament. Both will be making their Masters debuts.
Sargent, a Vanderbilt sophomore, is the reigning NCAA champion. He turned heads last May, not only by winning the individual title as a freshman, but by registering a staggering 194-mph ball speed off the tee on the final hole of regulation.
Sargent, 19, is the first amateur to accept a special invitation to the Masters since Aaron Baddeley in 2000. The Masters traditionally invites the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up, along with the winners of the British Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur, Asia-Pacific Amateur and Latin America Amateur. The reigning NCAA champion has not received the same treatment, but perhaps this is a sign that that might change moving forward.
Higa, 27, has six career wins on the Japan Golf Tour, including four victories in 2022 when he finished first on the tour's Order of Merit. He is currently No. 68 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
There are now 80 golfers who have qualified and expected to compete at the 87th Masters, which is scheduled April 6-9. The field will be filled out by anyone winning a PGA Tour event before then that awards full FedEx Cup points, the top 50 in the OWGR the week before the Masters and the 2023 Latin America Amateur champion, with the event scheduled for next week.