It’s one of the most interesting Official World Golf Ranking updates of the year; we’re a week out from the top-50 cutoff for the Masters Tournament, and there are some big names on the outside looking in.
The field for the year's first major at Augusta National, currently 85 players deep, is almost set. While most have already earned their invites, three opportunities are available: win this week's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, win next week's Valero Texas Open or be among the top 50 in the OWGR come March 27.
So let’s take a look at the world-rankings bubble (excluding the guys who have already qualified via other avenues):
Currently sitting at Nos. 43, 45 and 47 in the OWGR, respectively, Harris English, Keith Mitchell and Min Woo Lee are in pretty good shape to be at Augusta National.
Unfortunately for the guys on the other side of the bubble, things aren’t looking as optimistic.
Nos. 51-55 in the world ranking are already in, with the next guy out being Lucas Herbert at No. 56.
Here are the guys from 56-79 who have yet to qualify for the Masters and are in the field at Austin Country Club, plus their minimum finishes needed to have a chance at moving into the top 50 and punch their tickets to Augusta National:
- 56. Lucas Herbert, Round of 16
- 57. Taylor Montgomery, quarterfinals
- 58. Denny McCarthy, quarterfinals
- 59. Rickie Fowler, quarterfinals
- 61. Victor Perez, semifinals
- 63. Adam Hadwin, semifinals
- 64. Davis Riley, semifinals
- 67. Nick Taylor, semifinals
- 68. Andrew Putnam, third
- 69. Davis Thompson, semifinals
- 70. Maverick McNealy, third
- 71. Matt Kuchar, third
- 72. Christiaan Bezuidenhout, third
- 73. Brendon Todd, can't reach top 50
- 75. J.J. Spaun, third
- 77. Ben Griffin, third
- 78. Justin Suh, runner-up
- 79. Cam Davis, third
Approximately 52.3 points will go to the winner, according to Twitter’s resident OWGR guru, Nosferatu, meaning if any of the above players won, they’d jump into the top 30.
Probably the most notable name on the outside looking in is Rickie Fowler, who has been rising in the world ranking this season after reuniting with swing coach Butch Harmon and switching to veteran looper Ricky Romano.
"My short-term goal is to obviously get myself back in Augusta," Fowler said ahead of Match Play on Tuesday. "If that doesn't happen, we're going to continue to move forward and be in a good position."
Fowler's behind-the-scenes changes have been almost palpable on the course. In the fall, he finished T-6 at the Fortinet Championship before nearly earning his sixth win on Tour but settling for a T-2 at the Zozo Championship. Fast-forward to 2023, and his improved consistency is as clear as day: his worst finish in his past five starts was T-31 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, notching top-20s the rest of the way, including a T-13 at The Players two weeks ago.
"It's definitely been a lot better being able to kind of build some momentum and ultimately build some confidence. The last few weeks I really haven't felt that great with the swing. But what I've been able to get out of those weeks shows a little bit more state of the game and how I'm feeling... If we can finish where we have been, not feeling great, I'm looking forward to when things are feeling really good," Fowler said.
If he doesn't get the needed quarterfinals finish this week, the 34-year-old will play the Valero Texas Open next week in a final Masters bid; he would have to win that event to qualify. Augusta aside, Fowler plans on playing the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head the week after the Masters.
LIV defectors continue to fall
In other OWGR news, four notable LIV defectors have dropped out of the top 100 in the past couple of weeks.
Marc Leishman (95 to 101), Paul Casey (94 to 102), and Louis Oosthuizen (100 to 104) are now on the outside looking in as LIV Golf remains point-less despite its bid for world ranking points. Brooks Koepka also recently dropped out of the top 100 and currently sits at No. 106.
While Oosthuizen and Koepka have earned invites to Augusta, Leishman and Casey will not play this year.