Aphibarnrat on cusp of earning Masters invitation
December 18, 2017
By Associated Press
- December 18, 2017
Kiradech Aphibarnrat nearly jars the cup at HSBC Champions
A late surge by Kiradech Aphibarnrat makes him among nine players projected to get invitations to the Masters by finishing the year in the top 50 in the world ranking.
He ended his year with four straight top-10s, including a fifth-place finish Sunday in the Indonesian Masters. The Thai is projected to finish the year at No. 49, one spot ahead of Yusaku Miyazato of Japan, who also will get to Augusta National. Aphibarnrat eagled the final hole of the Indonesian Masters to crack the top 50 in the projected year-end rankings.
The other seven who will get into the Masters through the world ranking are Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren, Matt Fitzpatrick, Branden Grace, Ross Fisher, Yuta Ikeda and Bernd Wiesberger. That puts the field of players expected to compete at 80 going into next year.
The Masters also invites players who are in the top 50 on March 25, and anyone winning a PGA TOUR event that offers full FedExCup points. The top 50 in the OWGR on Feb. 19 qualify for the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, while the top 64 available players as of March 12 get in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The top 50 on April 30 qualify for THE PLAYERS Championship.
Aphibarnrat’s Masters spot may not be secure, though.
The last tournament offering ranking points this year is on the Asian Development Tour, and one Official World Golf Ranking expert said it could impact his standing in the year-end rankings. Aphibarnrat would lose his spot in the year-end top 50, and his Masters invitation, if he finishes outside the top 10 at this week’s Boonchu Ruangkit Championship in his native Thailand.
Aphibarnat, who’s listed in the tournament’s field, would be replaced in the top 50 by Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira, according to the Twitter account @VC606, which publishes OWGR projections. Aphibarnrat finished T10 in last year’s Ruangkit Championship.
Aphibarnrat finished T15 in his lone Masters appearance, in 2016. Miyazato, 37, and Kodaira, 28, have never made the trip down Magnolia Lane.
Peter Uihlein and Dylan Frittelli are expected to start 2018 on the cusp of cracking the top 50 for the first time. Uihlein is playing his first season as a TOUR member after winning the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, one of four events in the Web.com Tour Finals. Frittelli, a college teammate of Jordan Spieth at Texas, holed a 25-foot birdie putt that clinched the 2012 NCAA title for the Longhorns.
Neither Uihlein or Frittelli has played in THE PLAYERS or the Dell Technologies Match Play. Qualifying for the latter would allow Frittelli to compete in Austin, Texas, where he played his college golf.