ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Davis Love III needed someone else’s misfortune to get into the Masters.
He almost got it.
Love fell out of the top 50 in the world ranking Sunday by four-hundredths of a point, and it all came down to a shot by Pat Perez on the 18th hole at Bay Hill that cleared the rocks framing the water by about a foot.
Perez was able to play his next shot from short of the green and made bogey to tie for fourth. That gave Perez, who already was eligible for the Masters, enough points to move up to No. 48 and knock Love out of the top 50.
This week’s world ranking was the cutoff for the top 50 to qualify for the Masters, and four players earned invitations – Alvaro Quiros of Spain (No. 25), Prayad Marksaeng (No. 47), Mathew Goggin of Australia (No. 49) and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (No. 50).
The only remaining ticket to Augusta National is to win the Shell Houston Open this week.
Prayad made the biggest rally Sunday, closing with a 64 to tie for second in the Black Mountain Masters on the Asian Tour to secure his spot in the top 50.
The Thai who grew up in poverty received an exemption to the Masters last year, but had to withdraw because of a back injury.
“There were people who looked down on me after my withdrawal and said I would never be invited back,” Prayad said. “So I wanted to prove very badly that I could qualify on my own merit. I’m very happy.”
Goggin and Oosthuizen will be making their first Masters appearance. Both helped themselves simply making the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which Love failed to do.
“I’m looking forward to getting in there,” Goggin said. “You grow up watching (Greg) Norman and the lure of the Masters is special, the history there and no Australian player has won it. All the Australian players want to be the first one.”
The Masters now has 96 players expected to play, keeping it below the 100 that Augusta National prefers.
Love needed some help to get into the top 50 earlier this month to qualify for a World Golf Championship, and got in by 0.0009 points when Brett Quigley three-putted his final hole at the Honda Classic.
He wasn’t as fortunate Sunday.
Love’s only hope was for Hunter Mahan to finish out of the top 20 and for Perez to finish lower than outright seventh place. Mahan was in the top 10 until he five-putted on the 16th green for a triple bogey, knocking him down the leaderboard.
Perez went at the flag on the 18th because he was trying to win the tournament. Had it gone in the water, he would have had to take a penalty drop back in the fairway, which likely would have led to double bogey.
Unless he wins in Houston, this will be the second straight year Love has missed the Masters.