Doug Ferguson sits down with new Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne and manages to wrestle one bit of news out of him:
Payne wants to restore starting in 2008 the eligibility criteria that PGA Tour winners receive an automatic invitation to the Masters. Johnson did away with the category after the '99 Masters when the Tour began scheduling events – usually with weak fields – the same week as the World Golf Championships and the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.
But bringing back the "win-and-you're in'' category is not that simple.
Should the Masters recognize winners from opposite-field events in Mexico, Milwaukee and Reno, not to mention the seven events after the FedEx Cup?
Hey, what about PGA Tour events played against European Tour events with much better fields? Oh, sorry. Continue...
And does it continue to take the top 40 on the PGA Tour money list or the top 30 in the FedEx Cup? Or both?
"There's a lot of arithmetic in this,'' Payne said. "What you don't want is all of a sudden to have 100 playing participants, and we have arguably eroded the quality of the tournament. Notwithstanding folks' opinion of how the best way to get there is, we're going to do the best we can.''
His goal is to keep the field around 90 players, and "anything that puts that number at significant threat has got an uphill battle.''