The Masters will allow any golfer who has qualified for the tournament to compete in April 2023, which will include the 16 players currently on the LIV Golf circuit, tournament chairman Fred Ridley announced on Tuesday (December 20).
“We have reached a seminal point in the history of our sport,” Ridley said in his statement obtained by ESPN. “At Augusta National, we have faith that golf, which has overcome many challenges through the years, will endure again.”
All six former past Masters champions currently signed to the LIV tour — Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel — are qualified to compete having previously won the tournament.
Additionally, Cameron Smith has qualified for winning the 2022 Open Championship, which he won days before announcing his decision to join LIV Golf in August.
Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka have also qualified for having won the U.S. Open within the past five years.
Joaquin Niemann has qualified for ranking in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings before leaving the PGA Tour in September.
Talor Gooch, Harold Varner III, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen are all expected to earn invites by ranking in the top 50 in the current World Golf Cup Rankings.
Additionally, any player ranking in the top 50 on the week prior to the 2023 Masters Tournament will also earn an invite.
“Through the years, legends of the game have competed and won at Augusta National Golf Club,” Ridley said. “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 honor the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April.”
Several of golf’s biggest names have signed multiyear deals with LIV Golf, which has controversial ties to the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and is reported to be offering guaranteed contracts ranging between $100 million and $200 million.
In June, the PGA Tour suspended all 17 members who competed in the inaugural LIV Golf event, according to a copy of a memo announcing the punishment to players shared by Front Office Sports ahead of the event on June 9.
The announced disciplinary action came just as the 17 PGA members and former members hit their opening tee shots in the inaugural event, which was held at Centurion Club outside of London.