No matter what happens in the next couple of days, three-time Major champion Ernie Els will not be in the field for the Masters, even in the unlikely event that he is offered a special invite to play.
Els has played his socks off in the last few weeks trying to earn his spot in the field for Augusta. If not for a dodgy putter, especially inside ten feet, Els more than likely would have qualified for the Masters.
He had top-five finishes in the Transitions Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, as well as a tie for 12th this week in the Houston Open. It is testament to how sweetly he is hitting the ball at the moment that he can get near the top of the leaderboard even while struggling with his putter.
Els needed either to win a PGA Tour event or to regain his spot in the world’s top 50 to gain automatic qualification to the Masters. He only managed to get back to 58th by the cut-off date, and his valiant struggle to win a tournament is documented above.
Having gone through all of that, the Big Easy has made the decision that he would not accept a special invite from the Augusta committee at the last minute.
"To go through all of this and then get an invite, I wouldn't take it. They can keep it. It's not going to change my life either way. I've played many out there – it's one of those things."
Chances of Els receiving a special invite to the Masters
There wasn’t much chance of Els being offered an invite however, as Ryo Ishikawa was already offered a spot a month ago, and the only non-Asian golfer to receive a special invitation in the last 10 years was Greg Norman in 2002.
In a lot of ways I respect Ernie’s decision, especially because he is playing so well, but it is a bit of a bitter pill to swallow because I would love to see him in the Masters this weekend.
Do you think Els is bluffing? If offered an invite would you prefer he stick to his guns and turn it down, or suck it up so that we can see him on the fairways of Augusta?