Masters Unlikely To Change Eligibility Criteria, Bad News For LIV Golf

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Masters is unlikely to make any changes to its eligibility criteria for next year’s tournament, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said Thursday, which means fewer players from LIV Golf will be competing in the year’s first major.

Only past Masters champions and recent major champions are eligible among current LIV players. The Masters invites winners of PGA Tour events and players ranked in the top 50 in the world, among other qualifying criteria.

The Official World Golf Ranking committee recently rejected LIV Golf’s application to award ranking points for its 48-man, 54-hole events, citing a lack of opportunities for players to earn spots on the tour or be relegated for poor play.

“As you recall last year, there was some speculation as to whether or not we would invite LIV golfers, and we stayed true to our qualification criteria and we invited everyone who was eligible,” Ridley said at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, host of this week’s Asia-Pacific Amateur.

“And so, while we do not at this time anticipate making any changes in 2024, you know, we do always look at them and we will continue to do that. I would just answer by saying that, you know, that our qualifications are very much dynamic, and we adjust to what we feel is the best interests of the tournament representing the best players in the world, so we always look at that.”

Eighteen players from LIV Golf competed in last year’s Masters. That number has already been cut in half for next year. LIV has six past Masters champions: Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson. LIV players Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau have won majors within the past five years.

No one else on the Saudi-funded tour is inside the top 50 in the world, including Talor Gooch, its season champion.

“You know, they made decisions based on what they thought was in the best interests of their golf careers, and we certainly respect that,” Ridley said. “We do have in our invitation criteria, it does say that we reserve the right to invite special exemptions to international players, although we did issue a special exemption to an amateur last year. So we are always looking at that.

“But these decisions have been made and we’ll have to do what’s in the best interests of the Masters and we’ll continue to do that.”