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For some fading stars, Texas is only ticket to Augusta

March 29, 2022 05:39 PM
USATSI_12521164

The Texas Open presents the final chance for a player to earn his way into the field next week for the Masters, and the only way to do it is with an outright win by someone not already qualified.

We have noted previously in this space that golf has become a young man’s game. At 25, Scottie Scheffler now has three victories in the last seven weeks and became the No. 1 player in the world after his Match Play title. It’s something to see when golf is being dominated by the likes of Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Cameron Smith, Sam Burns … with the old guard being slowly but surely pushed to the wayside.

Conversely, there are some older players this week in San Antonio who have been regulars at the Masters for years who are trying to get to Augusta National with a win. Former No. 1 Jason Day is now ranked 104th in the world and his streak of 11 straight Masters appearances is in jeopardy. Day has missed the last two Masters cuts but also has finishes of second, third, fifth and 10th at Augusta.

Rickie Fowler is trying to get back to the Masters after his string of 10 appearances was snapped last year. Fowler has three top-10 finishes including a runner-up at Augusta. 

Keegan Bradley has played in six Masters and Branden Grace seven. They have each missed the last two and are not yet qualified this year. Matt Kuchar, who has 15 Masters appearances with three top-five finishes, is 100-1 to win in Texas this week and earn his Masters invitation. 

Ian Poulter has actually pulled off this trick before, winning the Houston Open in 2018, one week before the Masters, to get into the field in the 11th hour. Poulter has played in 16 Masters and has made seven straight cuts at Augusta. Former British Open champion Henrik Stenson has also played in 16 Masters and is looking for a last-minute miracle when he tees it up this week at 300-1. 

Here are this week’s full tournament head-to-head matchups that I considered and those that I played for the Texas Open:

Considered (9-7 YTD)

— Martin Laird (+ 100) over Charles Howell III

— Gary Woodland (-105) over Keegan Bradley

— Adam Hadwin (-105) over Keegan Bradley

— Davis Riley (+ 110) over Mito Pereira

— Patton Kizzire (-105) over Luke List

Played (8-11 YTD)

— Bryson DeChambeau (-130) over Jason Day

For every play from myself, Matt Youmans, and Wes Reynolds, tune into this week's edition of “LongShots.” We are joined by special guest Jeff Sealey and it is available now at VSiN.com/podcasts

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