Last chance saloon in Texas for those who need Masters invite

Ronan MacNamara

Billy Horschel (Photo by Raj Mehta/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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A host of household names are teeing it up at the Valero Texas Open this week aiming to win and earn a last minute invite to Augusta National for the Masters.

Seamus Power and Pádraig Harrington will both be hoping they can claim a victory and join Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry at the opening major of the year.

Storylines will be a plenty next week with Jon Rahm returning as defending champion after his move to LIV Golf while world number one Scottie Scheffler is the pre-tournament favourite and can Rory McIlroy end his chase for the career-grand slam and also pick up his first major title in a decade?

But who will join them? A host of notable names are chasing that coveted invite with one last roll of the dice.

Former FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel has been in a nice run of form lately, posting top-12 finishes in three of his last four PGA Tour starts but his place in the Masters is hanging by a thread.

The world number 87 has played in nine of the last ten Masters editions and has appeared in every major since 2018.

“Yeah, I’m not in Augusta and my main focus this week is to win,” Horschel said on Tuesday.

“I think if you’re in Augusta, you’re sort of – ultimately you always want to win, but I think you’re sort of assessing where your game is, what you need to work on, some of the shots you may need to have to be able to play well at Augusta.

“So yeah, there’s two different mindsets between the players that are in Augusta and the players that aren’t in Augusta.”

European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald is also chasing an unlikely PGA TOUR victory that would guarantee his passage into the Masters for the first time since 2015.

Scottish Ryder Cup player needs a maiden PGA Tour win to avoid missing out on a drive up Magnolia Lane for the second successive year while Alex Noren, Matt Kuchar and Kevin Kisner all need a win.

World number 58 Christiaan Bezuidenhout is the highest ranked player in the field not already exempt for the Masters while Tom Hoge, Mackenzie Hughes (63) and Thomas Detry (64) won’t be at the Masters having opted against competing this week.

The top-50 in the world at the end of the previous calendar year earn an invite as do this inside the top-50 this week while previous Masters winners hold a lifetime exemption and other major winners get a five year exemption.

The top 12 and ties from last year’s Masters are allowed to return, as are the top four and ties from the other three majors in 2022, with every winner at a full-field PGA Tour event – the ones not played the same week as a major – over the past 12 months securing a spot.

The last three winners of the PLAYERS Championship and anyone who qualified for last season’s Tour Championship are all in the Masters field.

The field is almost set with 88 players pencilled in.

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