Monday, December 22, 2008

Richard Sterne goes from No 113 to 43
and a place in Masters in just two
year-ending tournaments

Forget about Vijay Singh & Co in California, officially the final shot of 2008 was Richard Sterne's South African Open-winning birdie in the play-off against Gareth Maybin.
That counted for the official world rankings - the Chevron World Challenge didn't. The top 50 ranked receive invitations to play in the US Masters in April.
Sterne, pictured above, was among 15 players who clinched a place on Sunday in the first Major of 2009.
Rory McIlroy cemented his place in the top 50 by finishing joint third in the South African Open, which moved him up to No 39, 10 places ahead of Lin Wen-Tang of Taiwan, who tied for sixth in the Volvo Masters on the Asian Tour to be world ranked No. 49.
The 15 players not otherwise eligible, except for their top-50 ranking, were Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher, Luke Donald, Shingo Kayatama, Graeme McDowell, Rory Sabbatini, Jeev Milkha Singh, Aaron Baddeley, McIlroy, Oliver Wilson, Sterne, Soren Hansen, Tang and Soren Kjeldsen.
Along with other criteria, that puts the 2009 Masters field at 88 players who are expected to compete from April 10-13 at Augusta National.
Among those still NOT eligible are Woody Austin, Scott Verplank, Davis Love III and J.B. Holmes, the only Ryder Cup player who could miss the first major of the year.
Augusta National has the smallest field of the four majors, and it most likely will get larger.
Players still can qualify by winning one of 13 US PGA Tour events leading to the Masters, or by getting into the top 50 in the rankings published a week before the Masters. The Masters has not had more than 100 competitors since 1966.
No one made a bigger move than Sterne, who was ranked No. 113 two weeks ago. But he won the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the South African Open in consecutive weeks to move up 70 spots to No. 43.
Lin also was out of the top 100 in early November but began his move by winning the Hong Kong Open and securing his place with a tie for sixth in the Volvo Masters.



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