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Augusta sends out first batch of Masters invites

The Masters will have a guy named Palmer playing at Augusta National next year — just not the King.

Ryan Palmer was among five Nationwide Tour graduates who earned a spot in the 2005 Masters on Monday, when the final world ranking of the year was published and allowed Augusta National to start putting invitations in the mail.

Palmer — no relation to Arnold Palmer, who played his 50th and final Masters last year — qualified by finishing in the top 40 on the PGA Tour money list.

He got there with a final-round 62 to win the Funai Classic at Disney in October.

Four others were on the Nationwide Tour in '03 and earned a Masters invitation by finishing in the top 40 on the money list: Zach Johnson, Mark Hensby, Bo Van Pelt and Ted Purdy. They were among 14 players who will play in their first Masters April 7-10 at Augusta, Ga.

The big winner Monday was Trevor Immelman of South Africa, who was No. 53 in the world going into the final week of the season. Because his points were not devalued as much as those in front of him, Immelman moved ahead of four players and ended No. 49.

Two players he passed who fell out of the top 50 — Nick Price and Kirk Triplett — had already qualified for the Masters by finishing in the top 16 at Augusta National last April.

David Howell earned his first trip to the Masters by finishing the year in the top 50 in the world ranking.

Other Masters newcomers who qualified through rankings were Nick O'Hern (No. 45) and Joakim Haeggman (No. 48).

This will be the second time Ryan Palmer has been to Augusta National — but first as a player. He cobbled together tickets one year as a birthday present for his father.

"The four of us went up there for Thursday and Friday. It was an awesome experience, just getting to see the place and Magnolia Lane and everything," Palmer said after winning at Disney. "What an unbelievable dream come true to get to drive down there with my wife and my parents ... as a player. I'm looking forward to that."

The initial field has 87 players, including six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus and two-time winner Seve Ballesteros, both of whom have indicated they might play.

The field will not be set until March 28.

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