How to Qualify for the Masters: All 20 Exemptions at a Glance

By Todd Mrowice

Hideki Matsuyama chipping at 2021 Masters

The Masters is surrounded by decades of tradition and endless memorable moments and highlights. Outside of tournament organizers and perhaps a few seasoned golf scribes, not many could recite all 20 routes that players take to complete the field each and every year. All 20 Masters qualifications are described here. See how many you already knew and which ones you just learned about.

Exemptions for Champions

The first Masters exemptions are handed out to champions of prestigious events, including previous Masters champions. Here are the events that include a Masters invitation with the trophy.

1. Previous Masters Champions

Anyone who has won the Masters is invited back for life. Arnold Palmer played in 50 consecutive Masters tournaments but the overall record is held by Gary Player who played in 52 spanning from 1957- 2009

2. U.S. Open Champions

Players who have won the U.S. Open are invited to the Masters for the following five years. In the case of a player like Brooks Koepka who won the U.S. Open in 2017 and 2018, the exemption is based on the most recent win.

3. British Open Champions

The same rules apply as the exemption for U.S. Open winners listed above. Win the British Open, and you get invited to play in the Masters for the next five years.

4. PGA Champions

Again, the same rules apply to winners of the PGA Championship as the U.S. and British Open champions, a five-year exemption from the player’s most recent PGA Championship victory. If Phil Mickelson had never won a green jacket, he would be exempt until 2026 for winning the 2021 PGA Championship.

5. Players Championship Winner

The golfer that conquers TPC Sawgrass and wins The Players Championship receives a three-year exemption into the Masters. Quite the luxury for winning “golf’s 5th major.”

6. Olympic Gold Medalist (current)

This one didn’t come into play until golf was reintroduced as an Olympic sport in 2016. The golfer that wins the gold medal is exempt for one year. Xander Schauffele won Olympic gold in 2021.

7. U.S. Amateur Champion (current)

The winner of the U.S. Amateur is exempt for one year. Players such as Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, and Viktor Hovland have gotten their first looks at Augusta National by way of winning the U.S. Amateur.

8. British Amateur Champion (current)

Like the U.S. Amateur, the champion of the British Amateur is exempt into the Masters for one year. Notable champions include Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal, who both went on to become Masters champions.

9. Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion (current)

The Asia-Pacific Amateur champion receives a one-year Masters exemption. 2021 Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama won this event in 2010 and 2011.

10. Latin American Amateur Champion (current)

The champion of the Latin American Amateur also secures a one-year Masters exemption. 2018 Latin American Amateur Champion Joaquin Niemann is now routinely in the Masters via other exemptions.

11. U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion (current)

One spot is reserved in the Masters for the top amateur player who isn't a powerhouse collegiate star merely months away from turning professional. The U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion enjoys a one-year exemption.

Other Masters Exemptions

In addition to earning a Masters invitation through winning one of the events above, invitations are handed out to players who meet any of the following criteria, regardless of if they have won a big event.

12. The top-12 players from the previous Masters, including ties.

13. The top-4 players from the previous U.S. Open, including ties.

14. The top-4 players from the previous British Open, including ties.

15. The top-4 players from the previous PGA Championship, including ties.

16. Players who have won a PGA Tour event that awards full-points for the Tour Championship since the last Masters.

17. Players that qualified for the previous year’s Tour Championship.

18. The top-50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking the previous year.

19. The top-50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking the week before the current Masters year.

20. The first 19 exemptions are ironclad, and then there’s this one. The Masters Committee, which oversees the tournament, is allowed to invite international players that are not otherwise qualified to play in the event.

Conclusion

Trying to remember all of these different avenues to Magnolia Lane can be dizzying. A very positive note, Augusta National and the Masters Committee continues to evolve and looks to other areas of the world to bring the best players to the tournament each year.

About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. His experience spans over 15 years and he has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours. Todd has also put his deep knowledge of golf equipment to work as a club fitter and in several marketing roles in the golf industry. He has a hole-in-one on his playing resume and appropriately gave his son the middle name “Ace.”