Augusta National to invite LIV golfers to 2023 Masters

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Players eligible for the 2023 Masters under Augusta National Golf Club’s criteria, including those currently playing on the LIV Golf tour, will be invited to compete in the major tournament, the club announced Tuesday.

There are 16 players currently playing on LIV Golf who will be part of the Masters field next year, including six past champions.

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The decision by Augusta National comes amid a growing divide in the game of golf between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. Those players who have jumped to LIV Golf have been banned from playing in PGA Tour events and stripped of their membership. Both golf circuits have filed lawsuits against the other.

In a statement from the club in announcing the field, Chairman Fred Ridley said: “Regrettably, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it. Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is to honor the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April.”

Ridley said in the announcement that invitations will be sent out this week. He added that a change in the current criteria could be made in the future.

“As we have said in the past, we look at every aspect of the tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria for future tournaments will be announced in April,” Ridley said in the statement.

The 2023 Masters is scheduled April 6-9.

Prominent members of the LIV Golf tour include former Masters champions Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel. Former champions receive an automatic invitation to the Masters. Cameron Smith qualifies for winning the 2022 British Open. Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka qualify for winning the U.S. Open in the past five years. Joaquin Niemann was in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup point standings. Talor Gooch, Harold Varner III, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen are all ranked in the top 50 in the world. All those LIV golfers were on the list of invitees as of Dec. 19 included in Augusta National’s announcement. The world rankings are not likely to change by the end of the year for the final list.

“We have reached a seminal point in the history of our sport,” Ridley said. “At Augusta National, we have faith that golf, which has overcome many challenges through the years, will endure again.”