Being invited to play in the Masters, men’s golf’s major, is an honor in itself. That’s because it’s so hard to earn.

The 88th edition of the Masters, which begins today at Augusta National Golf Club (par 72) in Augusta, Georgia, USA, will feature 89 players who have passed through the needle in a haystack to compete for the green jacket.

To be invited to the Masters, players must meet at least one of the 20 criteria set by the tournament organizers. Here’s how the 89 invitees qualified for this year’s Masters.

Category 1 is the all-time winners. This year, 18 players fulfill this requirement, including Tiger Woods (USA), defending champion Jon Rahm (Spain), and world No. 1 Scotty Schauffler (USA).

Nos. 2 through 4 are the winners of the U.S. Open, The Open, and PGA Championship of the four majors, excluding the Masters. Winners of the last five years qualify for the Masters, and this year, 10 players – four from the U.S. Open, four from the U.S. Open, and two from the PGA Championship – benefited. Players with overlapping categories are prioritized (by year of qualification), resulting in 10 major winners in the last five years instead of 12.

In the last three years, the winner of the Players Championship (Category 5) has also been invited to the Masters. This year, however, none of those players qualify, as all of the previous winners have been prioritized. Scottie Schauffler in 2023, Cameron Smith in 2022 and Justin Thomas in 2021 were eligible, but Schauffler was already invited to the Masters as Masters Champion, Smith as The Open winner and Thomas as PGA Championship winner.

Olympic gold medalists (Category 6) are invited to the Masters the following year. Since the Olympics are held every four years, there is one athlete in this category every four years.

Categories 7 through 11 are the U.S. Amateur, British Amateur, Asia-Pacific Amateur, Latin American Amateur, and the six winners of the U.S. Mid-Amateur (two runners-up in the U.S. Amateur Championship). Of the six amateurs invited to this year’s Masters, Mid-Amateur Stuart Hagestad (USA) will be making his third appearance. He tied for 36th in 2017 and missed the cut in 2022.

The men’s NCAA Division I national champion is also invited to the Masters. There are no invites this year. Last year’s winner, Nick Dunlap, is ineligible because he 토토 turned pro after winning the PGA Tour’s American Express in January. Dunlap regained his Masters berth as a PGA Tour winner.

Players also qualify for the Masters based on their finish in the previous season’s Masters and majors. Players must finish in the top 12 at the Masters and in the top four at the U.S. Open, The Open, and PGA Championship to be invited to the Masters. This year, there are 11 players who qualify. Victor Hovland, Zander Schauffele, Russell Henley, Cameron Young and Sais Tigalla (Masters), Rory McIlroy (U.S. Open), Joo Hyung Kim, Jason Day and Zep Stricker (The Open), and Cameron Davis and Kurt Kittayama (PGA Championship) qualified for this year’s Masters based on their results in last year’s majors.

PGA Tour winners are also invited to the Masters. This year, 20 players fulfill that requirement, including Akshay Bhatia, winner of the Valero Texas Open, which concluded on July 7.

Ten of last year’s Tour Championship field also made the cut for this year’s Masters. They include Sung Jae Lim, Si Woo Kim, Max Homa, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns, Cory Connors, Tyler Moore and Adam Schecter.

The top 50 players in the world rankings are also invited to the Masters. Last year’s top 50 at the end of the year was Category 19, and this year’s top 50 in the world rankings released just before the Masters is Category 20. Last year’s top 50 included 11 players, including Ryan Fox, Nikolai Hoydor and Min Woo Lee, while this year’s top 50 included only one player, Byung Hoon Ahn.

In addition, players who are specially invited by Augusta National Golf Club can play in the Masters, and this year three players were specially invited: Ryo Hisatsune (Japan), Joaquin Niemann (Chile) and Torbjorn Olesen (Denmark).