Securing a return to the Masters is one of the many carrots dangling in front of Min Woo Lee at this week’s WGC Match Play in Austin, Texas.

The Perth native is the only hopeful who only needs to get out of his group at the Match Play to lock up a Masters invitation in what is the last window for those who aren’t already in the Masters to be invited to the Augusta major via the top 50 on the world rankings.

All other hopefuls in the tweet below, including Lee’s fellow Australian Lucas Herbert, need at least a quarter finals berth to have a chance to get to the Masters.

As reported by the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson, Lee missed a par putt at the recent Players Championship and fell to a seven-way tie for sixth at TPC Sawgrass which, had it gone in, would have secured a two-way tie for fifth and a rise to world No.40 — guaranteeing a trip to Augusta. Lee will now have to fight it out at Austin Country Club.

Lee is in a group with U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick (11th seed), Sahith Theegala (26), and J.J. Spaun (61).

Last year, Lee debuted at the Masters and impressively finished T14.

Another incentive for Lee to go deep into the WGC Match Play this week is membership on the PGA Tour.

A swathe of the world’s best golfers will line at up this week for the WGC Match Play, which sees 64 golfers compete in pools of head to head play.

Lee could have wrapped up Special Temporary Membership on the PGA Tour had he finished fourth or better at the recent Players Championship. But after coming within one shot of eventual winner Scottie Scheffler, Lee made a triple-bogey 7 at TPC Sawgrass’ fourth hole and then fizzled to a Sunday 76 that dropped him to a tie for sixth.

”There were a lot of players that came up to me and said that they have done the same thing, which is encouraging to me, because I did feel like I let it go a little bit, but I actually am proud of the way I finished,” he said. “But you kind of look at the negative side in that situation and you’re like, oh, I could have done this, I could have done that.

“But I mean, a lot of people have done that and, yeah, it’s nice when the top pros have said, I’ve done the same thing, and they’re No. 1, No. 2 in the world. So it’s just something that you learn from, and that happens on a Sunday, and it’s not easy, and if it was, then, I mean, the best would win every time.”

Still, Lee has another chance to inch closer to Special Temporary Membership at this week’s WGC Match Play at Austin, Texas. Special Temporary Membership is given when a non-member of the PGA Tour earns the equivalent points of No.125 on the previous year’s FedEx Cup rankings. A player who earns Special Temporary Membership plays on the PGA Tour for the rest of the season before becoming a full member the following season. Lee can bypass all that by winning the WGC Match Play, or any PGA Tour event, which would instantly make him a member.

Lee, who mainly plays on the DP World Tour where he has won twice including the 2021 Scottish Open, dreams of playing on the PGA Tour but also sprinkling in some big European events into his schedule.

“Yeah, I would love to play over here in America against the best in the world, but I really like playing in Europe too,” he said. “You have really good results there and when the schedule fits, I would love to play both tours.
“This is the place I want to be. And, yeah, temporary membership, yes, it’s close, but I got a few tournaments to make up for that and hopefully I can get to that.”

Lee, at world No.47, had already locked up a return to the Masters courtesy of being ranked inside the worlds top 50 at the end of last year, which is a category that gets invited to Augusta National.