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

Dubai.

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.