How to qualify for the Masters, the most prestigious golf tournament in the world

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When the Masters kicks off on Thursday, 89 golfers will be competing for the coveted green jacket. The size of the field – 67 fewer golfers than the other majors – combined with its status in the golf world makes it the most prestigious golf tournament in the world.

Over the years, the number of golfers competing in the Masters had slowly grown, reaching 99 in 2011, the largest number or golfers at the Masters since 1966. As a result, new rules were put in place in 2013 to “maintain Bobby Jones’ desire to keep the Masters an intimate gathering of the world’s best competitors,” Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne said at the time.

Now, in order for a golfer to earn an invite to Augusta National, they must satisfy at least one of 18 different criteria, which range from being a former champion to finishing as the runner-up in the US Amateur.

Below is a look at each of the 18 current criteria and which players qualify under each. In several cases, golfers qualify under multiple categories. Those players are only listed under their first qualification. In a few cases, golfers who have qualified will not compete for various reasons (e.g injuries, age, Korean military commitment).


No. 1 — 16 players in this year’s tournament have a lifetime invitation for having won the Masters previously

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Bubba Watson
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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Angel Cabrera Trevor Immelman Zach Johnson Bernhard Langer Sandy Lyle Phil Mickelson Larry Mize Mark O’Meara Charl Schwartzel Adam Scott Vijay Singh Jordan Spieth Bubba Watson Tom Watson Mike Weir Ian Woosnam


No. 2 — 4 golfers received an invitation for having won the U.S. Open in the last five years

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Rory McIlroy
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Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy Webb Simpson Justin Rose Martin Kaymer

(Jordan Spieth was already qualified as a former Masters champions)


No. 3 — 2 golfers received an invitation for having won the British Open in the last five years

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Ernie Els
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Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Darren Clarke Ernie Els

(Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson are already qualified as former Masters champions. Rory McIlroy already qualified as a former US Open champ)


No. 4 — 3 golfers received an invitation for having won the PGA Championship in the last five years

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Jason Day
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David Cannon/Getty Images

Keegan Bradley Jason Dufner Jason Day

(Rory McIlroy already qualified as a former US Open champ)


No. 5 — Rickie Fowler received an invitation for having won The Players Championship in the last three years

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Rickie Fowler
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Rickie Fowler

(Martin Kaymer is already qualified as a recent US Open champion and Tiger Woods will not participate due to injury)


No. 6 — The current U.S. Amateur champion and the runner-up automatically qualify

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Bryson DeChambeau
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Bryson DeChambeau Derek Bard


No. 7 — The current British Amateur champion also receives an invitation

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Romain Langasque
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Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Romain Langasque


No. 8 — As does the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion

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Jin Cheng
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Jin Cheng


No. 9 — Current Latin America Amateur Champion

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Paul Chaplet
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Paul Chaplet


No. 10 — The current US Mid-Amateur champion receives an invitation

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Sammy Schmitz
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Harry How/Getty Images

Sammy Schmitz


No. 11 — Players who finished in the Top 12 (including ties) in last year’s Masters Tournament get to come back

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Dustin Johnson
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Paul Casey Bill Haas Charley Hoffman Dustin Johnson Hunter Mahan Hideki Matsuyama Ryan Moore Kevin Na Ian Poulter Kevin Streelman

(16 golfers matched this criteria, with 6 matching earlier criteria)


No. 12 — Players who finished in the top 4 (including ties) in the previous year’s U.S. Open also automatically qualify

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Louis Oosthuizen
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David Cannon/Getty Images

Cameron Smith Louis Oosthuizen Branden Grace


No. 13 — Players that finished in the top 4 (including ties) in the previous year’s British Open get to play in the Masters

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Marc Leishman
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Marc Leishman

(Louis Oosthizen, Jason Day, and Jordan Spieth are all qualified under earlier criteria)


No. 14 — So do players who finished in the top 4 of the previous year’s PGA Championship

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A scoreboard from the PGA Championship.
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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

All four of these golfers (Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Branden Grace, Justin Rose) are already qualified under earlier criteria.


No. 15 — Winners of qualifying PGA Tour events since the previous Masters, including Jim Herman, who didn’t qualify until this week with a win at the Houston Open.

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Jim Herman
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Eric Christian Smith/AP

Steven Bowditch Fabian Gomez Emiliano Grillo Jim Herman Smylie Kaufman Chris Kirk Russell Knox Danny Lee David Lingmerth Davis Love III Shane Lowry Graeme McDowell Troy Merritt Vaughn Taylor Justin Thomas


No. 16 — Players who qualified for the previous year’s season-ending tour championship are in Augusta

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Matt Kuchar
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Reuters

Daniel Berger Harris English J.B. Holmes Kevin Kisner Brooks Koepka Matt Kuchar Scott Piercy Patrick Reed Brandt Snedeker Henrik Stenson Robert Streb Jimmy Walker


No. 17 — Being among the top 50 players in the final World Golf Ranking in the previous year is another qualification

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Sergio Garcia
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David J. Phillip/AP

Byeong-hun An Kiradech Aphibarnrat Jamie Donaldson Victor Dubuisson Matthew Fitzpatrick Sergio Garcia Billy Horschel Thongchai Jaidee Soren Kjeldsen Anirban Lahiri Andy Sullivan Lee Westwood Bernd Wiesberger Danny Willett Chris Wood


No. 18 — And anybody who is among the top 50 players in the most recent World Golf Ranking and not otherwise qualified

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Rafael Cabrera-Bello
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Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Rafael Cabrera-Bello


Finally, the Masters Committee can also extend invitations to international players who do not otherwise qualify. This year, no such invitations were extended.

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images

None.


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