The Masters, perennially the paramount event on the golf calendar, feels even bigger this year with a host of engaging storylines and the return of a certain 14-time Major winner. It is somewhat ironic, as the Masters field is smaller than it has been in decades.
Four players – including Australia’s Cameron Smith – qualified for the tournament via their Official World Golf Ranking after the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and one spot is potentially up for grabs at this week’s Houston Open. But with Brooks Koepka officially dropping out of the proceedings – the reigning US Open champion remains sidelined with a wrist injury – the 2018 Masters field will feature no more than 87 players, the smallest number of entrants since 1997.
Late additions to the field were Smith, Chez Reavie, Satoshi Kodaira and Dylan Frittelli, gaining entry for finishing inside the OWGR’s top-50. The Houston Open winner also receives a Masters invitation if he’s not already eligible. Ian Poulter was informed by various entities on Saturday morning after his round-of-16 victory at the Match Play that he had accumulated enough OWGR points for a Masters invite, only to discover 10 minutes before his quarter-final match that one more win was required to earn his spot. Poulter lost that match 8&6 to Kevin Kisner, rose to 51st spot in the world, and now needs to win in Houston to play at Augusta National.