Masters 2024: Augusta National chairman says LIV players will continue to be considered for invitations

Masters 2024: Augusta National chairman says LIV players will continue to be considered for invitations
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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Acknowledging that the current division in the men’s professional game is not helpful for the sport, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said Wednesday that the Masters would not rule out extending special invitations to LIV players if their performances warranted them.

“If we felt that there were a player or players, whether they played on the LIV tour or any other tour, who were deserving of an invitation to the Masters, that we would exercise that discretion with regard to special invitations,” Ridley said during his annual State of the Masters news conference.

Ridley cited, as an example, the tournament’s decision to invite LIV player Joaquin Niemann, though when describing the Chilean’s worthiness his two LIV victories this season weren’t directly mentioned. In the initial press release, the club cited Niemann’s status as a former winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship, one of ANGC’s initiatives, and on Wednesday Ridley said Niemann’s willingness to play after the LIV season, when he played well on the DP World Tour and captured the Australian Open, factored into the decision.

Here’s a look at which majors, if any, all LIV Golf players are eligible.

The Masters hasn’t announced its qualification criteria for the 2025 event, but historically the tournament has relied heavily on the Official World Golf Ranking, inviting the top 50 at year’s end. Ridley said that the OWGR remains a “legitimate determiner of who the best players in the game are.”

Augusta National sits on the OWGR board and decided last year to deny LIV Golf’s application for world ranking points. Ridley said that the board made “remedial suggestions” regarding pathways, access and the team golf component, but LIV ultimately decided to withdraw its application. LIV CEO Greg Norman criticized the OWGR as inaccurate and no longer credible, and several players have suggested that the Masters and other majors provide direct access to the top-performing LIV players, such as Talor Gooch, who led LIV’s season-long points race in 2023.

“I think it will be difficult to establish any type of point system that had any connection to the rest of the world of golf because they’re basically – not totally, but for the most part – a closed shop,” Ridley said. “Those concerns were expressed by the OWGR, but again, I don’t think that that prevents us from giving subjective consideration based on talent, based on the performance of those players.”

Chairman Fred Ridley said he hopes the Masters is never played at 8,000 yards and commends golf’s governing bodies for taking action.

With golf’s civil war now entering its third year, the major championships have arguably been elevated in importance with the best players now convening less frequently. Ridley pointed out that, though the tournament aspires to have the “best players in the world” at Augusta National, that’s rarely the case because of the unique structure of the tournament, with past champions and amateurs helping comprise the smaller invitational field.

“So we’re a little bit different situation,” Ridley said. “But we do have that flexibility, and I would not foreclose that we would consider that in the future.”

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