AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Every shot matters every week on the PGA Tour. It only becomes more evident during certain times of the year, such as the cutoff for finishing in the top 50 for the Masters.
Min Woo Lee is one case study.
His chances of winning The Players Championship were long gone when he reached the 18th hole. Lee had a 12-foot par putt that he missed, dropping him into a seven-way tie for sixth place. If he had made the par putt, he would have been in a two-way tie for fifth.
Turns out that was a difference of being assured a spot in the Masters and having to sweat it out at the Dell Match Play this week. Lee is No. 47 in the world, and this is the final week for those not eligible for the Masters to get into the top 50.
If he had made that putt, he would be No. 40.
Top 50 #OWGR projection for #TheMasters qualification. As you can see, all the hopefuls (in white, not yet qualified for the Masters) who are at the @DellMatchPlay, will need to get out of the group stage and all but one will need to make the QF stage at least! pic.twitter.com/EBTZkv7i72
— Nosferatu (@VC606) March 20, 2023
Lee is not alone. Taylor Montgomery was tied for fourth at one point late Sunday at Sawgrass until a bogey on the 15th, a double bogey on the 16th and two balls in the water for a quintuple bogey on the 17th. He dropped all the way down to a tie for 55th, made no gains in the ranking and comes into Match Play at No. 57 in the world.
According to a world ranking guru known as “Nosferatu” on Twitter, Montgomery will need to reach the quarterfinals to have any chance of cracking the top 50.
Among those on the Masters bubble at the Match Play is Keith Mitchell at No. 45. He would figure to be a lock if he gets out of group play and might make it even if he doesn’t.
Outside the top 50 along with Montgomery are Lucas Herbert (56), Denny McCarthy (58) and Rickie Fowler (59). Fowler, who would be in the 64-man field even without LIV Golf players being ineligible, will need to advance to the quarterfinals to have a mathematical chance of reaching the top 50.
Fowler is in the same Match Play group as Jon Rahm, Billy Horschel and Mitchell. He said he would play the Valero Texas Open next week if he doesn’t make the top 50 in the world. The winner of the Texas Open is the last player into the field at Augusta.
“Doing whatever I need to do to give myself the best chance to be in Augusta,” he said.