Masters field 2013: Tiger Woods joins 93 others at Augusta National

Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

The field is set for The Masters, which has the most unique qualifying process of any major.

The Masters is not only the most important tournament of the PGA Tour season, but it's also the most unique. There are a number of reasons for this, including Augusta National Golf Club's process for handing out invitations. The Masters has the smallest field of any of the majors, with the club, as opposed to some larger golf governing body like the USGA, tightly controlling the methods for qualifying to play at Augusta. In recent years, the membership has expanded the ways a pro can get an invite but the tournament still excludes some of the best players in the world.

This year's field was finalized Sunday evening in San Antonio, where Martin Laird won the Valero Texas Open to earn last-minute entry and push the field to 94 players. By comparison, the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic exceeded 150 players, with the USGA employing local qualifying across the country. The original Open Championship in Great Britain has a similar-sized field, and the season's final major, the PGA Championship, also opens up the field to qualifying for teaching pros who would otherwise be selling sweaters in pro shops across the country.

There are no such open qualifying opportunities for The Masters, which formally lists 19 distinct ways to earn an invitation. But that can be misleading, as many players qualify in multiple ways to take up those spots and some of those 19 ways provide only one reservation. Here's this year's field, broken down by how they qualified:

Past Masters champions

The best way to get an invitation to The Masters is to own a green jacket from Augusta National Golf Club. Winning The Masters earns a player an automatic lifetime invitation, which is certainly unlike all other tournaments in golf. The old-timers have been gently encouraged to step aside over the past decade, as the seniors like Charles Coody and Gay Brewer struggled to get around the course. There are 12 former winners who are not playing this year, including Tommy Aaron, Jack Burke Jr., Billy Casper, Charles Coody, Nick Faldo, Raymond Floyd, Doug Ford, Bob Goalby, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Fuzzy Zoeller. The three legends in that group -- Nicklaus, Palmer and Player -- will be on hand Thursday morning for the traditional ceremony on the first tee to start the tournament.

Here are the 19 past champions who are playing in 2013:

Angel Cabrera (2009)
Fred Couples (1992)
Ben Crenshaw (1984, 1995)
Trevor Immelman (2008)
Zach Johnson (2007)
Bernhard Langer (1985, 1993)
Sandy Lyle (1988)
Phil Mickelson (2004, 2006, 2010)
Larry Mize (1987)
Mark O'Meara (1998)
Jose Maria Olazabal (1994, 1999)
Charl Schwartzel (2011)
Vijay Singh (2000)
Craig Stadler (1982)
Bubba Watson (2012)
Tom Watson (1977, 1981)
Mike Weir (2003)
Tiger Woods (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005)
Ian Woosnam (1991)

Amateur invitees

In keeping with the wishes of founder Bobby Jones, the most decorated amateur in golf history, Augusta National continues to reserve several spots for the ams. Of course, that designation is a little different than when Jones played, as most amateurs in the field are simply superstar youngsters who will soon be pros, to the dismay of stodgy old golf writers everywhere. Here are this year's amateur invitees:

Allen Dunbar (British Am Champ)
Steven Fox (US Am Champ)
Tianlang Guan (Asian Am Champ)
Nathan Smith (US Mid-Am Champ)
T.J. Vogel (US Am Pub Links Champ)
Michael Weaver (US Am Runner-up)

Major winners from the past five years

While a Masters winner gets the lifetime invite, the champions of the other piddling majors earn an exemption for only five years. Those 12 players this year are:

Webb Simpson (U.S. Open)
Rory McIlroy (U.S. Open)
Graeme McDowell (U.S. Open)
Lucas Glover (U.S. Open)
Ernie Els (British Open)
Darren Clarke (British Open) **Update - Clarke has withdrawn
Louis Oosthuizen (British Open)
Stewart Cink (British Open)
Padraig Harrington (British Open)
Keegan Bradley (PGA Championship)
Martin Kaymer (PGA Championship)
Y.E. Yang (PGA Championship)

Top 16 (and ties) from the 2012 Masters

There are nine players who earned an automatic invite based on their strong showing last year, including Sergio Garcia, who had that memorable meltdown here and said he wasn't good enough to win majors:

Peter Hanson
Lee Westwood
Ian Poulter
Justin Rose
Adam Scott
Jim Furyk
Sergio Garcia
Hunter Mahan
Kevin Na

Top eight (and ties) from the 2012 U.S. Open

Michael Thompson
David Toms
John Peterson
Jason Dufner

Top four (and ties) from the 2012 British Open & PGA Championship

Brandt Snedeker
David Lynn
Carl Pettersson

The Players Championship Winners from the past three years

The unofficial fifth major in golf, The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, also has separate standing with ANGC. While the PGA Tour has no control over the four majors, they can at least take some consolation in that. Here are those three players:

Matt Kuchar
K.J. Choi
Tim Clark

Top 30 from the 2012 PGA Tour money list

This group includes some of the richest players in the world who might have the most pressure this week. These guys repeatedly cashed big checks last year, but are still seeking a major victory:

Luke Donald
Steve Stricker
Dustin Johnson
Rickie Fowler
Nick Watney
Bo Van Pelt
Ryan Moore
Robert Garrigus
Scott Piercy
John Huh
Ben Curtis

PGA Tour event winners since 2012 Masters

These eight players include the last-minute invitees, such as Laird and D.A. Points, who both won in the Texas swing the past two weeks. Potter is the only player in this group who won last year, with the other seven picking up victories since January.

Martin Laird
Marc Leishman
Ted Potter Jr.
Russell Henley
Brian Gay
Kevin Streelman
D.A. Points
John Merrick

Top 50 From 2012 final world rankings

Most of the top 50 from last year qualified in one of the aforementioned ways before the final rankings came out at the end of last season. Here are 13 others who earned entry based on their work last year, with only one American among them:

Paul Lawrie
Francesco Molinari
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Branden Grace
Bill Haas
Nicolas Colsaerts
Jason Day
Hiroyuki Fujita
Matteo Manassero
Thomas Bjorn
Jamie Donaldson
George Coetzee
Thorbjorn Olesen

Top 50 in world rankings two weeks prior to the 2013 Masters

Like the group above, almost the entire current top 50 qualified in another way, but these bubble boys earned late entry last Sunday after the Shell Houston Open:

Fredrik Jacobson
Richard Sterne
Henrik Stenson

Field from the 2012 Tour Championship

The final FedExCup event concludes the PGA Tour season with just 30 players left in the "playoffs." There was only one player from that field who did not already qualify in another way:

John Senden

Special invitations

Because it's Augusta National, they can also invite whoever they damn well please and go outside their strict guidelines. There was substantial pressure to invite Ernie Els last year, but the tournament committee opted not to include the veteran South African who had been a staple at Augusta. This year, however, they extended two special foreign invitations, as the game continues to expand in Asia:

Ryo Ishikawa
Thaworn Wiratchant

So there you have it, the most coveted invitation in golf belongs to 94 players this year. The field is loaded with American talent, both young and old, as 44 golfers from the USA will play this week. South Africa has the second-most representatives, but it's a distant second place with just eight golfers. The nice, even number will result in 47 pairings, which will be announced by Augusta National on Tuesday.

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