It's more than two months away, but the 2014 Masters field is already jammed and could be one of the largest fields in recent Augusta National history. The field is currently at 92, just one shy of last year's Thursday first round field, and there are still two months of qualifying opportunities.
The green jackets, as they do with pretty much everything, treat qualifying a little differently than the other three majors. The Masters field is the smallest, most exclusive major championship field and rarely goes over 100 players. In contrast, the final three majors of the year are typically over 150 players, with groups of three going off split tees and playing from sun-up to sun down. Augusta has the luxury of sending its smaller field off one tee throughout the day, and the schedule is rarely altered significantly by inclement weather.
Augusta National has increased the ways to qualify in recent years, and the field hit 99 players just three years ago -- the largest since 103 teed it up in 1963, according to the Augusta Chronicle. Kevin Stadler became the latest to join the field with his win on Sunday at TPC Scottsdale. Stadler's victory also ensures we'll have the first ever father-son duo playing in the Masters, with his dad, Craig, the Walrus, continuing to cash in that lifetime invite he holds for winning the green jacket in 1982.
So why the big number so early? Well, some of it is just random occurrence, an unusual amount of shuffling inside the top 50 before the end of the year. But also the PGA Tour making their fall series in the new wraparound schedule worth full FedExCup points opened up some new spots. To their credit, Augusta has also led the efforts to create some new amateur championships across the world that have added or will add new spots (e..g Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, the recently announced Latin America Amateur).
But could we get over 100 players? There are still two big ways to qualify: a) by jumping into the top 50 in the World Rankings the week prior to the Masters or b) by winning one of the nine full FedExCup points PGA Tour events between now and the Masters. If we get a lot of first-time winners in those tourneys, or a few guys outside the top 50 get hot, we'll easily be pushing 100 come April, and that's probably something the traditional Augusta folks would rather avoid.
Here's a more detailed breakout of how a player qualifies from last year and here's the current list of players (sorted by country, since it's Olympics time!) who have qualified already for the 2014 Masters. We'll update this as the tournament draws closer and more names are added (amateurs marked with an asterisk).
|Cabrera, Angel||Blixt, Jonas|
|Day, Jason||Stenson, Henrik|
|* Goss, Oliver||Thailand|
|Leishman, Marc||Jaidee, Thongchai|
|Scott, Adam||United States|
|DeLaet, Graham||Castro, Roberto|
|Weir, Mike||Cink, Stewart|
|Bjørn, Thomas||Crenshaw, Ben|
|Olesen, Thorbjørn||Dufner, Jason|
|Donald, Luke||English, Harris|
|* Fitzpatrick, Matthew||Ernst, Derek|
|Lynn, David||Fowler, Rickie|
|* Porteous, Garrick||Furyk, Jim|
|Poulter, Ian||Glover, Lucas|
|Rose, Justin||Haas, Bill|
|Westwood, Lee||Horschel, Billy|
|Singh, Vijay||Johnson, Dustin|
|Dubuisson, Victor||Kirk, Chris|
|Kaymer, Martin||Mahan, Hunter|
|Langer, Bernhard||* McCoy, Michael|
|Manassero, Matteo||Mize, Larry|
|Molinari, Francesco||Moore, Ryan|
|Japan||* Niebrugge, Jordan|
|Matsuyama, Hideki||O'Meara, Mark|
|Bae, Sang-Moon||Reed, Patrick|
|Choi, K.J.||Simpson, Webb|
|* Lee, Chang-woo||Snedeker, Brandt|
|Yang, Y.E.||Spieth, Jordan|
|Luiten, Joost||Stadler, Kevin|
|Northern Ireland||Stallings, Scott|
|Clarke, Darren||Streelman, Kevin|
|McDowell, Graeme||Stricker, Steve|
|McIlroy, Rory||Walker, Jimmy|
|Lyle, Sandy||Watson, Bubba|
|South Africa||Watson, Tom|
|Clark, Tim||Weekley, Boo|
|Els, Ernie||Woodland, Gary|
|Grace, Branden||Woods, Tiger|
|Oosthuizen, Louis||Donaldson, Jamie|
|Schwartzel, Charl||Woosnam, Ian|
|Fernandez-Castano, Gonzalo||de Jonge, Brendon|
|Jimenez, Miguel Angel|
|Olazabal, Jose Maria|