Japan's Shugo Imahira grabs special invite into 2019 Masters

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Japan's Shugo Imahira grabs special invite into 2019 Masters

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Japan's Shugo Imahira grabs special invite into 2019 Masters

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The Masters field has expanded.

Shugo Imahira has accepted an invitation to compete in the 2019 Masters. Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters, made the announcement Tuesday.

This will be the Japanese player’s first appearance at the Masters.

“Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts established the Masters as a global sporting event, so throughout our history special invitations for deserving international players have always been carefully considered,” Ridley said in a release. “We are pleased to continue this tradition by welcoming Shugo Imahira to our field this year based on his impressive record during the past 12 months. We look forward to hosting him and all of our Masters competitors in April.”

The 26-year-old grabs the spot after a 2018 in which he won on the Japan Golf Tour and posted three runners-up and three thirds on the circuit as well. He is a two-time winner on the Tour overall, with a victory there in 2017 too.

Imahira is currently No. 53 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He would’ve earned an automatic Masters spot by finishing 2018 ranked in the top 50, but he could only muster 55th. He would’ve placed in the top 50 by year’s end with a runner-up or better at the BNI Indonesian Masters, but he came up short with a T-12.

It didn’t end up mattering, as he got his Masters spot anyway.

Imahira’s inclusion pushes the 2019 Masters field to 80 players.

Players can still qualify for the 2019 Masters by winning a PGA Tour event not held opposite a WGC tournament or by finishing among the top 50 in the OWGR during the week prior to the Masters.

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