by Jeff Skinner
It’s the week before The Masters and the field is set except for one very coveted spot. The winner of the Shell Houston Open will get the last remaining space in the field for The 2010 Masters. Davis Love III is in the same position he was last year. Having not yet qualified under one of the criteria that The Masters selection committee uses to determine the field, Love will have to win this week. He’ll have some support from real golf fans in Houston but most of them will be rooting for their adopted son and hottest Champions Tour golfer, Fred Couples.
There are 32 golfers playing at the Masters that will be teeing it up at Augusta but so far Love isn’t one of them and there is something wrong with that. Love deserves to be at Augusta. He certainly is worthy of a special invitation from the guys in the green jackets.
The Masters uses eighteen different criteria to determine its players. Many players earn their way on through world ranking points, money lists, past major victories and finishes in prior major events. Of course The Masters past champions make up one of the most appealing aspects of this tournament. The Masters also invites many amateur champions that otherwise would never play at Augusta. Unfortunately for Love he has failed to meet any of those criteria. But the folks at The Masters boast about their commitment to grow the game and they certainly have taken steps to accomplish that.
Last year, in an effort to grow and broaden the game they issued a “special invitation” to Asian sensation Ryo Ishikawa. He ended up missing the cut but during the season he went on to prove their decision right.
So why can’t they invite Love as a special invitee. This guy has twenty PGA Tour wins, including a PGA and two Players Championships. It’s not like he’s John Daly! He’s as dedicated to this game as any professional and cherishes Augusta. You want to talk about growing the game? Talk to Davis Love III. He campaigned for two years to get a PGA tournament at his beloved Sea Island Golf Club in Sea Island Georgia. Growing the game? How about the golf academy that Love’s father started there in the seventies. Growing the game? How about Love and his buddy Zach Johnson hosting the PGA Tour in Georgia during The Fall Finish and bringing the spotlight to Georgia once again. How many kids and juniors and newcomers get to participate in clinics at Augusta? Do you think that more kids will be able to spend some time with the pros and take part in the activities at Love’s event or Augusta? The Masters looks great on television but if you really want to grow the game, Love’s event has a better chance of getting kids turned on to golf with all the activities and the fan friendly environment that Love will put forth at The McGladrey Classic.
The Masters is as special a tournament as there is in golf. We all relish everything from the azaleas to Amen Corner to Butler Cabin and everything in between. The Masters should make this year’s tournament even more special and award Davis Love III a special invitation. Since they make their own rules they can do anything they wish. They could even say that Love earned the invite based not only on his play on the course but also for his efforts to grow the game. That is something The Green Coats and Love certainly have in common.