March 27 2011
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Martin Laird has already qualified for the Masters.
Plenty of others behind him on the leaderboard have not, including Spencer Levin, Marc Leishman and Augusta, Ga., native Charles Howell III. All three need a win to get into the field since none of them has a chance to be in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings by Sunday night.
If none of them gets it this week, they’ll have one more opportunity in next week’s Shell Houston Open, where all three are in the field.
Levin, of course, is also trying to win for the first time on the PGA TOUR after a couple of near-misses -- but Augusta National won’t be too far removed from his thoughts.
"It's in the back of my mind for sure," said Levin, who has never played in the Masters. “I'm sure it is for everybody who is in my position and needs a win to get there.”
Howell is trying to get to his hometown event for the first time since 2008 after falling all the way to 149th in the world.
Leishman and Senden are both looking for return invitations to Augusta National, too. Leishman missed the cut last year in his only appearance there, while Senden missed the cut in his two appearances.
Then there’s J.B. Holmes. He’s pretty much the only player who could move inside the top 50 in the World Rankings to qualify for the Masters.
Depending on some other things, it looks like Holmes, who has only played in one Masters, would need to finish fourth or better. He’s currently tied for 16th and 1 under through four holes today. -- Brian Wacker