Return to the Golf Today Home Page All the latest golf news Coverage of all the worlds major tours For all your golfing needs Golf Course Directory Out on the course Golf related travel Whats going on, message board, links and more!
Worldwide Feature Articles
Top Stories
PGA: Stephen Ames coasts to six shot win
PGA: Tiger Woods ends difficult week with 75
Euro: Van de Velde ends 13 year victory wait
Stephen Ames vaults to World No. 27
Boost for the Philippine Open
Tiger Woods misses practice to be with father

Daly & Kuchar earn Masters invites

John Daly and Matt Kuchar are returning to the Masters, although their road back to Augusta National could not have been any different.

Daly took baby steps during a 14-month journey that began last year when he was No. 507 in the world ranking and ended this week at No. 43. Kuchar took one giant leap, winning the Honda Classic on Sunday to improve 99 spots to No. 50.

That got them into the Masters, which extended invitations Monday to players in the top 50 who were not already eligible. Rory Sabbatini (No. 45) also qualified.

That gives the Masters a field of 89 players who are expected to compete. The list includes six-time champion Jack Nicklaus, who has not decided whether to play.

Daly missed the Masters a year ago for the first time since his breakthrough victory in the 1991 PGA Championship. He skipped one year when he was eligible, in 1997 because of alcohol rehab, and was denied a one-year extension by the club.

``You get into those tournaments and you think you're going to be in there for the rest of your life,'' Daly said. ``I always said, 'Well, I've got next year, I've got next year.' That year runs out. And it was pretty tough.''

The man who has thrilled galleries with his grip-and-rip-it style earned his ticket back to the Masters through plodding, consistent play.

He tied for third at the Scottish Open, won the BMW International Open for his first victory in six years, then tied for fourth in the Canadian Open.

Daly was as high as No. 47 last year and looked like he would finish in the top 50 at the end of the year. Instead, he dropped five spots in the final weeks due to a bizarre set of circumstances, and had to play well early this year to get back in the top 50.

``That was pretty much my only goal,'' he said.

The Masters figures to be one major where Daly should contend, although his best finish was a tie for third in 1993, six strokes behind Bernhard Langer. He has always felt Augusta was ideal for him because of his length.

Now, the course has added nearly 300 yards, and golf's longest hitter the past 10 years has been controlling his tee shots with a slight fade.

``I heard the golf course is even more perfect for me now, and it will be interesting to play Augusta with a cut,'' Daly said.

Kuchar is another player who needs no introduction at Augusta.

He was the darling of the tournament in 1998 when he qualified as the U.S. Amateur champion. Playing with defending champion Tiger Woods, he dazzled the galleries with an everlasting smile and a strong game, tying for 21st.

Two months later, he was two shots out of the lead going into the weekend at the U.S. Open and tied for 14th.

Under pressure to turn pro, Kuchar returned to Georgia Tech for his final two years. He never won another U.S. Amateur or an NCAA title, but he never looked back.

Kuchar earned his PGA Tour card last year by earning enough money through sponsor's exemptions to avoid qualifying school. On Sunday, he one-putted the last eight greens and closed with a 66 to win the Honda Classic by two strokes.

The victory moved him just past Steve Lowery at No. 50 in the world ranking. Lowery previously qualified for the Masters with a third-place finish at the PGA Championship.

The other criteria Monday was to be in the top three on the PGA Tour money list. Brad Faxon, Chris DiMarco and Kevin Sutherland already had qualified. The only other way to get into the Masters is winning The Players Championship next week.

The Masters changed its criteria three years ago, putting more emphasis on the world ranking and eliminating the previous qualification of winning a PGA Tour event.

Eight players who won PGA Tour events since last year's Masters did not get into the field -- Robert Damron, David Gossett, John Cook, Joel Edwards, Cameron Beckman, Matt Gogel, Len Mattiace and Ian Leggatt.

Email this page to a friend | Return to top of page