The 16 LIV golf stars confirmed for US Masters after big blow to PGA Tour
"Our focus is to honour the tradition of bringing together a pre-eminent field of golfers
In a move that is a blow to the PGA Tour, US Masters chairman Fred Ridley has confirmed LIV Golf stars will be getting invites to the 2023 tournament.
LIV Golf was the biggest story in the golfing world, in 2022, with several top stars breaking ranks from the PGA Tour to join the Saudi-funded breakaway competition.
One of the big trump cards, the PGA had hoped, would be the fact that LIV Golf is not picking up world ranking points. So, those that have jumped ship are dropping down the rankings and less likely to compete in majors.
However, a way around that is past performances and major wins. It will mean the likes of Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson - past Masters champions - and more will get to play at Augusta National, next April.
Here are the 16 LIV golfers that have received 2023 Masters tournament invites:
- Abraham Ancer
- Bryson DeChambeau
- Talor Gooch
- Sergio Garcia
- Dustin Johnson
- Brooks Koepka
- Jason Kokrak
- Phil Mickelson
- Kevin Na
- Joaquin Niemann
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Patrick Reed
- Carl Schwartzel
- Cameron Smith
- Bubba Watson
- Harold Varner III
Here’s the current list of Masters invitees — 16 LIV golfers by my count. Hopefully whoever chooses tee times has some fun… pic.twitter.com/vpkBYE3IUN
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) December 20, 2022
"We have reached a seminal point in the history of our sport"
In terms of invites, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel and Phil Mickelson are all past champions so were always likely to get asked to play.
Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka all got invites for winning majors in the past five years, while Joaquin Niemann has been invited after reaching the tour championship finalé. The remaining six were all inside the world's top 50 at the cut-off point.
The statement from US Masters chairman Fred Ridley reads:
"From its inception in 1934, the purpose of the Masters Tournament has been to benefit the game of golf. Each April, the Masters assembles the world’s leading golfers to compete for the Green Jacket and a place in history.
“It provides a stage for fans to experience dramatic moments of competition at the highest level and promotes the sport domestically and abroad. Through the years, legends of the game have competed and won at Augusta National Golf Club.
"Champions like Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have become heroes to golfers of all ages. They have inspired some to follow in their footsteps and so many others to play and enjoy the game. They have supported the sport and, thus, all who benefit from it.
“They have shown respect for those who came before them and blazed a trail for future generations. Golf is better because of them.
“Regrettably, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it.
“Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is to honour the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April.
“Therefore, as invitations are sent this week, we will invite those eligible under our current criteria to compete in the 2023 Masters Tournament.
“As we have said in the past, we look at every aspect of the Tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria for future Tournaments will be announced in April.
“We have reached a seminal point in the history of our sport. At Augusta National, we have faith that golf, which has overcome many challenges through the years, will endure again."