Augusta National has decided to allow LIV Golfers to play in the 2023 Masters and, whilst it's huge news to get the confirmation, it comes as no real surprise.
The Masters has the phrase 'a tradition like no other' and one of its greatest traditions is that winning the Green Jacket gets you an invite back each and every year. It's why we continue to see the likes of Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Larry Mize and Sandy Lyle return year after year, with legendary Masters champions like Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson acting as honorary starters.
Fred Ridley clearly does not like LIV Golf and what it has done to the sport in 2022, and that came across loud and clear in his statement. "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," he said when confirming that LIV players will be able to play in the 2023 tournament.
But whilst Augusta works with the other major stakeholders in the game, like the R&A, USGA, PGA Tour, PGA of America, DP World Tour and the International Federation of PGA Tours, it has to recognise that LIV is home to a number of its past champions.
Who could imagine Phil Mickelson never returning to Augusta National? And other past champions like Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel not being invited back?
They've all won Masters, Bubba Watson has won two and Phil Mickelson has won three, and hosted Champions Dinners on the Tuesday of tournament week as defending champions. They won their Masters on the proviso that they'd be coming back for the rest of their careers, and it would have been an almighty decision to strip them of that.
Other big names who have won Majors in recent years or qualified via the top 50 have also earned their way in. Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and a number of others fall into this criteria.
A Masters without some of its recent past champions and LIV players who earned their way in would be a weaker Masters, and Fred Ridley knows this.
Instead, golf fans will now be able to watch the best of LIV, the Smiths, Johnsons, Dechambeaus and Koepkas up against the best of the PGA and DP World Tours. McIlroy, Scheffler, Rahm, Morikawa and co.
Whether you like it or not, LIV is home to some of the most entertaining and best golfers on the planet. A Masters without Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau is not what anyone wants.
This will be the first time we'll see LIV and PGA Tour stars teeing it up in the same field since July's Open, and it'll be nine months by the time Nicklaus, Player and Watson hit their ceremonial tee shots on Thursday morning of the April 6th.
I for one cannot wait, and no matter what side of the LIV vs PGA Tour civil war you're on, or if you're a neutral, I'm sure you'll be just as excited as I am.
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-6. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TSR4
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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