These 10 surprising golfers will miss the 2024 Masters

Talor Gooch is among those high-profile pros not playing this year's Masters.

Talor Gooch is among those high-profile pros not playing this year's Masters.

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Most of ’em will be there. That’s the biggest takeaway from this list — even in golf’s divided modern era, a majority of the guys you’d expect to see at the 2024 Masters will be there. That means top LIV players like Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith, whose recent major championships have them exempt. That means past Masters winners like Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson. Even Joaquin Niemann, who wasn’t otherwise exempt, received a special invitation from Augusta National ahead of this year’s tournament. Most of the usual suspects will be in town.

Just not quite all of ’em. The gang isn’t all here. There’s a list of pros you’re used to seeing at the Masters who won’t be here. Let’s run through 10 of ’em.

1. Talor Gooch

Surprising because: He’s one of the more talented players who left the PGA Tour for LIV. He’s also been one of the more outspoken. Gooch was LIV’s player of the year in 2023 and went so far as to say in February that a Masters won without some of the LIV players would have “an asterisk” — a comment that has earned him a fair amount of online derision.

Not playing because: His world ranking dropped too far to retain eligibility. Gooch has played primarily LIV events over the past year, he didn’t play well enough at last years Masters (T34) to earn a return invitation and he’s now No. 550 in the world. While several top LIV peers have a green jacket or recent major exemption to fall back on, Gooch does not. Does this Masters have an asterisk as a result of his omission? I’ll let you decide.

2. Dean Burmester

Surprising because: He’s one of LIV’s hottest players, sure — but he’s also seen success outside the LIV grid in recent months. Burmester won back-to-back DP World Tour titles in South Africa at the end of 2023, boosting his reputation and world ranking. Just not enough to qualify for this year’s Masters.

Not playing because: This weekend’s LIV title did nothing for his Masters eligibility. And while his DP wins got him inside the top 80 in the world, he didn’t crack the top 50 by year’s end and thus remained outside the qualifying window.

3. Louis Oosthuizen

Surprising because: Over the course of the last 15 years, there aren’t many pros who have put together better major championship resumes than Louis Oosthuizen. In 2021 alone he posted three top-3 finishes.

Not playing because: He, too, has dropped in world ranking; Oosthuizen is now No. 118. He withdrew from last year’s Masters. And his recent high finishes in majors have only earned him exemptions for the following year. Those have now run out, and Oosthuizen’s streak of consecutive Masters will end at 15.

4. Bernhard Langer

Surprising because: Bernhard Langer plays the Masters every year. Like, every year. This was supposed to be his 41st and final Masters.

Not playing because: Pickleball. Langer’s Masters return got derailed thanks to an Achilles tear while playing pickleball.

5. Angel Cabrera

Surprising because: When Angel Cabrera was released from prison in late 2023, the golf world wondered whether he’d make his return to Augusta National for this year’s Masters. He’d been sentenced in July 2021 for threats and harassment of his partner, but the 2009 Masters champ remains eligible. Augusta’s chairman Fred Ridley said that, should Cabrera work through his visa issues, he’d be able to compete. Cabrera also retained status on the PGA Tour Champions.

Not playing because: His visa was denied. Golfweek reported in March that the visa had been “temporarily declined” Cabrera’s agent confirmed that Cabrera won’t be participating in an email to the publication.

6. Kevin Kisner

Surprising because: He’s Kevin Kisner! Just two years ago he was on the U.S. Presidents Cup team. He’s played in every Masters since 2015. He’s played in every major championship since then, too. And last year he made headlines with a remarkably honest description of his driver woes en route to a missed cut at Augusta.

Not playing because: He just hasn’t been playing very good golf. Kisner doesn’t have a top-50 PGA Tour finish in over a year, he stepped away from competition for a while and is among those who has been serving as lead analyst for NBC broadcasts.

7. Harold Varner III

Surprising because: He finished inside the top 30 at last year’s Masters and remains one of the better-known pros on the planet.

Not playing because: While his top-30 finish was respectable, only the top 12 competitors get invited back for this year. Varner has plummeted to No. 466, so he’s out.

Sidenote: While we’re at it, let’s run through a list of the other LIV names you might have in mind — fixtures on Ryder Cups and major championships. That means these guys are missing, too:

European Ryder Cup stars: Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood

LIV pros who played last year: Mito Pereira, Abraham Ancer, Thomas Pieters, Kevin Na, Jason Kokrak

Other notables: Charles Howell III, Anthony Kim, Marc Leishman, Matthew Wolff, Carlos Ortiz

8. Billy Horschel

Surprising because: Like Kisner, Horschel was on the 2022 U.S. Presidents Cup team. Like Kisner, he’s struggled since then. Still, I would have expected Horschel to rank high enough to qualify for this year’s Masters.

Not playing because: While he’s been playing better of late, finishing inside the top 12 in three of his most recent five starts, he came up just short of the end-of-year OWGR cutoff and remains outside the top 80 in the world.

9 and 10. Sandy Lyle and Larry Mize

Surprising because: Larry Mize won the Masters in 1987. Sandy Lyle won the Masters in 1988. They’ve been Masters fixtures since then.

Not playing because: Both Mize and Lyle declared that 2023 would be their final Masters tournament. Mize, 64 at the time, declared the golf course had just gotten too long. He hadn’t made the cut since 2017 and was at peace with the decision.

As for Lyle? At age 65 he decided it was time to step away from pro golf altogether. His Masters career had a particularly memorable ending, too: On Friday last year, play was called due to weather with Lyle just 12 feet from the hole at No. 18.

How’d he spend that Friday night, preparing for his final strokes?

“A lot of tequila and a bit of whisky tasting at about 1 o’clock this morning,” he said.

Come Saturday morning he two-putted from the fringe. He did some interviews. And then he returned to the green to watch Mize finish up; they embraced on the 18th green.

They won’t be back at this year’s Masters. But that puts them in talented company.

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