Masters Countdown: Race to Qualification

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With less than a month to go, there are only two tournaments remaining that golfers can earn their invitation to the Masters - and for some, time is running out.

Marc Leishman became the latest person to secure his place in the field at Augusta National with his thrilling one-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Adam Hadwin grabbed another spot the week before at the Valspar Championship, which took the the total number of rookies with an invite up to 17.

The final two ways to qualify are either to win one of the remaining tournaments or to finish inside the World's top 50 come March 27, but for players like Ian Poulter and Bryson Dechambeau a win is necessary if they want to compete in April. 

England's Tommy Fleetwood looks to be one of the lucky ones. His second-place finish at the WGC Mexico and T10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational has propelled the 26-year-old to No.33 in the World rankings, and with only a week to go it's all but confirmed he will obtain his first ever invitation to play at Augusta National.

The Masters traditionally likes to limit its field sizes to under 100 players, and as it currently stands 90 golfers (including Fleetwood) have qualified for the first major of the year. Last year's field stood at 89, and it looks likely the number will be only one or two different once all those who have qualified under World rankings have been included.

The two tournaments left where players can qualify are the WGC Dell Match Play and the Shell Houston Open. At the WGC, there are eight players who could confirm their spots: Charles Howell III, Thongchai Jaidee, Tommy Fleetwood, Ross Fisher, Joost Luiten, K.T Kim, Jeunghun Wang and Hideto Tanihara. For the rest, a win at the Shell Houston Open is the only way to qualify if they can't make it inside the top 50 by next Monday, and Ian Poulter, Wesley Bryan and Bryson DeChambeau are among those hoping to do just that. 

So far, a total of 17 first-time participants will play in this year’s Masters from April 6-9, including all five amateurs who have qualified.

The Masters Qualification Race: As it stands

This list excludes Tommy Fleetwood, who won't get his official invitation until his place in the top 50 is confirmed on Monday 27th.

List of players in The Masters field

Who still hasn't qualified for The Masters?

Ian Poulter: Currently the World No. 199, Poulter has admitted his PGA Tour status is relying on borrowed time. The chances of him making the Augusta invitation list rests on winning the Shell Houston Open - but it looks like he may just miss out for the first time since 2006.

Luke Donald: The former World No.1 is currently 93rd in the World rankings and is on track to miss his second Masters in a row. Last year he took to Instagram to explain the disappointent he felt about not being there, but if he doesn't either win or move back in to the top 50 in the World by next Monday, he'll miss out for the second year in a row. 

Bryson DeChambeau: The low amatuer from last year's Masters has had a mixed transition from amatuer to professional. It's been a difficult start to the year for Dechambeau, who has hit headlines for his disagreements with the USGA regarding his attempt to introduce an unconventional putting style. He's gone back to a normal set-up, but his game hasn't improved. He's made one cut since January and will have to find form quickly if he wants to tee up in Augusta. 

Smylie Kaufman: Despite being part of the final pairing of the 2016 Masters, Smylie Kaufman shot nine-over-par and ended up tied for 29th, consequently missing out on automatic qualification to this years event. Currently he sits at number 159 in the World rankings, and needs a win in Houston to guarantee his spot alongside the rest of the SB2K16 squad (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler). 

Kevin Streelman: Streelman won the Par-3 competition in 2015, but two years later he finds himself without an invitation to be part of the field. A mixed bag of results last year means he's dropped to 125 in the World rankings, and will need to win to have another chance at the main event.

One of the big perks of securing your place in the top 50 in the World the week before the Masters is a guaranteed spot in the event, and right now there's a fight to get those last spots. As it stands, Tommy Fleetwood and Jeunghun Wang are the only other players not in the current field who would be included from this particular form of qualification - although there are numerous players that could challenge in the last couple of weeks. 

Wesley Bryan, only in his first year on the PGA Tour, has had back-to-back top five finishes in his last two events, and is currently at No.73 in the World rankings. 

Meanwhile Ross Fisher's third place finish at the WGC Mexico moved him up to World No. 53, while Hideto Tanihara (#60), Thongchai Jaidee (#63), Joost Luiten (#66) and Billy Horschel (#72) will all be hoping to challenge for a place in the field. 


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