Golf-LIV Golf's Niemann accepts special invite to Masters

  • Golf
  • Wednesday, 21 Feb 2024

Golf - European Tour - British Masters - The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, Britain - June 30, 2023 Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen during the second round Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers/ File photo

(Reuters) -LIV Golf's Joaquin Niemann was among three golfers who accepted a special invitation to compete in the Masters as part of the tournament's tradition of inviting leading international players who are not otherwise qualified for the event.

In addition to Niemann, who won LIV Golf's season opener at Mayakoba in early February, Augusta National also extended special invitations to Japan's Ryo Hisatsune and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen.

"Today's announcement represents the tournament's continued commitment towards developing interest in the game of golf across the world," Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, said in a statement. "We look forward to welcoming each player to Augusta National this spring."

With LIV Golf having been denied world-ranking points, Niemann's hopes of playing in this year's Masters under the current landscape were slim.

Immediately following his triumph at Mayakoba, where Niemann beat Spaniard Sergio Garcia with a 12-foot birdie on the fourth playoff hole in the fading light, the Chilean was clear about what his goals were.

"I want to win majors, but I gotta get in first," Niemann said.

Niemann has top-five finishes in each of his three DP World Tour starts this season, including winning the Australian Open in a playoff last December which qualified him for the July 18-21 British Open at Royal Troon.

The former No. 1 ranked amateur in the world has made the cut in three of his first four Masters appearances, including last year when he enjoyed a career-best share of 16th place at Augusta National.

Olesen, who has five top-10s in his last seven worldwide appearances, made the cut in each of his three previous Masters appearances, including a share of sixth place in his 2013 debut.

For Hisatsune, who last November became the first Japanese player to be voted Rookie of the Year on the Europe-based DP World Tour, this will mark his Masters debut.

This year's Masters will be held April 11-14. Jon Rahm won last year's Masters for his second major title, a triumph that came eight months before his stunning move to LIV Golf was announced.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in TorontoEditing by Christian Radnedge)

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