1:18 | Tour & News
Bold predictions for 2018: Rory McIlroy wins Masters
Rory McIlroy is a Masters victory away from completing the career Grand Slam.
By Dylan Dethier
Monday, December 25, 2017

UPDATE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Ernie Els says he received an invitation to Augusta National for the first week in April. It just wasn't an invitation to play in the Masters.

Els had to clarify a tweet from Sunday that said: "Thank you for a Great Xmas present! @TheMasters Can't wait!" That led several media sites to post stories that Els, a four-time major champion, had received a special exemption into the Masters.

Instead, the 48-year-old South African received a letter welcoming him as an honorary invitee. His five-year exemption into the Masters from winning the 2012 British Open ended last year. Augusta National has a tradition of inviting past major champions as honorary guests for the week.

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The Big Easy is headed back to Augusta. How's that for a Christmas present?

When Ernie Els teed it up in the 2017 Masters, he was at peace with it being his last go-round at the event. His 2012 Open Championship victory had granted him a 5-year exemption, which was set to run out. Acting accordingly, the South African fan favorite brought friends and family in for the event and was able to make the cut, finishing 53rd.

But on December 24, the 48-year-old tweeted out that he'd received an early Christmas gift from Augusta: an invitation to return.

It's the first special exemption issued by the major championship since Ryo Ishikawa received one in 2013.

Assuming Els takes Augusta up on the offer, he will make his 24th appearance in the Masters this coming April. His strong history at the event includes two runner-up finishes and six top-10s. And at a course where experienced players have often played well, The Big Easy will be worth paying attention to come Masters Week this year.

Harry How/Getty Images

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