By DOUG FERGUSON
Peter Lonard figured the closest he would get to the Masters this year was in front of his television. Thanks to a 5-foot par putt on the final hole that he thought was only worth money, he was added to the field Monday by squeezing into the top 50 in the world ranking.
The Zurich Classic in New Orleans, where Lonard was the sole runner-up, was the final tournament for players not already eligible to qualify for the Masters through the world ranking. Justin Leonard and Martin Kaymer also joined the field at Augusta National, although they were well inside the top 50.
They were among eight players who earned a Masters invitation in the first three months of the 2008 season, either through the world ranking or by winning a full-strength PGA Tour event.
Lonard was at No. 72 and figured he had to win the Zurich Classic.
He was one shot behind Andres Romero and faced a 45-foot birdie putt on the 18th to force a playoff. Lonard ran it 5 feet by the hole, then made that to finish alone in second. Had he missed, Lonard would have tied for second with Tim Wilkinson and moved up only to No. 53.
Lonard was not aware of this when he finished and was asked if the Masters was on his radar screen.
“No, it’ll probably be on my TV screen while I’m drinking beer or something,” he said. “Unless I win next week.”
The last chance to qualify is to win the Shell Houston Open, the final tournament before the April 10-13 Masters.
“I’ve never made a cut at Augusta, so it doesn’t really worry me whether I’m going or not,” Lonard said. “But I would like another go before I die.”
Kaymer was in Abu Dhabi and was runner-up to Tiger Woods at Dubai during the European Tour’s swing through the Middle East, helping him soar into the top 50 at No. 26. Leonard was outside the top 200 at this time last year, but his resurgence included a victory last fall in the Texas Open. He was at No. 25.
Five players won this year to qualify — Daniel Chopra, D.J. Trahan, J.B. Holmes, Steve Lowery and Sean O’Hair. This is the first time since 1999 that Augusta National has allowed winners of PGA Tour events to qualify for the Masters, provided those tournaments are full FedEx Cup events.
The Fall Series and opposite-field events, such as Mexico and Puerto Rico, did not count.
The Masters now has 93 players expected to compete, with one more spot available to the winner in Houston if he is not already eligible. Among those still not eligible is Davis Love III, whose 70 consecutive majors is the longest streak among active players.
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Listed below are the 93 players who have qualified and are expected to compete in the 72nd Masters, to be played April 10-13 at Augusta National Golf Club (players listed in only one category). One more spot is available to the winner of the Shell Houston Open:
Masters champions: Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara, Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize, Craig Stadler, Tom Watson, Fuzzy Zoeller, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd.
U.S. Open champions (five years): Angel Cabrera, Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Campbell, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk.
British Open champions (five years): Padraig Harrington,Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis.
PGA champions (five years): Shaun Micheel.
Players Championship (three years): Stephen Ames.
U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up: Michael Thompson.
British Amateur champion: Drew Weaver.
U.S. Mid-Amateur champion: Trip Kuehne.
Top 16 players and ties from 2007 Masters: Rory Sabbatini, Jerry Kelly, Justin Rose, Stuart Appleby, David Toms, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Vaughn Taylor, Ian Poulter, Tim Clark.
Top eight players and ties from 2007 U.S. Open: Niclas Fasth, Bubba Watson, Nick Dougherty, Scott Verplank.
Top four players and ties from 2007 British Open: Sergio Garcia, Andres Romero, Richard Green, Ernie Els.
Top four players and ties from 2007 PGA Championship: Arron Oberholser, John Senden.
Top 30 players from the 2007 PGA Tour money list: Steve Stricker, K.J. Choi, Aaron Baddeley, Adam Scott, Mark Calcavecchia, Woody Austin, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Boo Weekley, John Rollins, Stewart Cink, Steve Flesch, Robert Allenby, Brett Wetterich, Heath Slocum.
Winners of PGA Tour events since the 2007 Masters that award full FedEx Cup points: Nick Watney, Brian Batemen, Jonathan Byrd, Daniel Chopra, D.J. Trahan, J.B. Holmes, Steve Lowery, Sean O’Hair.
The field from the 2007 Tour Championship: Camilo Villegas.
Top 50 players from the final 2007 world ranking: Henrik Stenson, Trevor Immelman, Lee Westwood, Toru Taniguchi, Nick O’Hern, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Shingo Katayama, Robert Karlsson, Richard Sterne, Soren Hansen, Anders Hansen.
Top 50 players from world ranking published a week before the 2008 Masters: Martin Kaymer, Justin Leonard, Peter Lonard.
Special foreign invitations: Liang Wen-Chong, Prayad Marksaeng, Jeev Milka Singh.