A big week of golf on 3 continents
Joost Luiten better hope his decision to hit one shot at the BMW
Masters doesn’t keep him out of that other ”Masters.”
This is the last big week of tournaments around the world as
players try to finish inside the top 50 to earn an invitation to
Augusta National in April. Luiten is at No. 52 going into the
Nedbank Challenge, but here’s where it gets interesting.
Luiten had a sore shoulder in Shanghai. He had to play two of
three ”Final Series” events on the European Tour to be eligible
for the finale in Dubai. So he chose to hit one shot off the first
tee at Lake Malaren in the BMW Masters and withdraw. He rested his
shoulder for two weeks, played Turkey and then tied for fourth in
However, that added one tournament to his total in the world
ranking formula. If he had not been required to play the BMW
Masters, Luiten would be at No. 49.
Ultimately, however, his performance will dictate whether he
gets into the Masters. Even though it’s late in the year, the
fields on three continents are packed with good players at the
World Challenge in California, the Hong Kong Open and the Nedbank
Challenge in South Africa.
The strongest field is in California, though it will have no
bearing on the Masters because all 18 players at Sherwood are
already eligible (and all of them are in the top 30).
Miguel Angel Jimenez (No. 48) is playing in Hong Kong, by far
the weakest of the three fields. If he doesn’t play well, the
Spaniard risks being passed in the ranking by Richard Sterne (No.
51) or Luiten in South Africa. Also playing in South Africa are
Gary Woodland (No. 57 but already in the Masters), Kiradech
Aphibarnrat (No. 60) and Peter Uihlein (No. 67).
The final tournament of the year is the Nelson Mandela
Invitational, though the field is expected to be weak. Among those
expected to play are Branden Grace, currently at No. 50.
For the players who don’t quite crack the top 50, Augusta
National takes the top 50 one week before the Masters. Then again,
Geoff Ogilvy missed the top 50 by one shot in Australia at the end
of last year and went backward at the start of a new season.