AUGUSTA, Georgia(AP) The Masters offered special invitations to three players from Asia on Monday, part of chairman Billy Payne's plan to help broaden the appeal of golf and its first major around the world.
Invitations were awarded to Liang Wen-Chong of China, Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand and Jeev Milkha Singh of India, who will be making his second straight trip to the Masters. Singh tied for 37th last year.
``These three individuals are successful, accomplished and talented golfers deserving of a Masters invitation,'' Payne said. ``This is also another component in our objective of growing the game of golf worldwide utilizing the Masters brand. We think the interest in golf in each country will heighten when these players compete in the Masters.''
Liang last year became the first Chinese player to win the Order of Merit on the Asian Tour. Prayad has won six times on the Asian Tour, and in 1999 became the first Thai to qualify for the British Open. Singh won twice on the European Tour in 2006, including the Volvo Masters at Valderrama.
None is among the top 75 in the world ranking.
That brings the field to 87 players expected to compete from April 10-13 at Augusta National. Players still can qualify by winning a U.S. PGA Tour event (except those opposite World Golf Championships) or being among the top 50 in the world ranking published on March 31.