Augusta announces surprise Masters invites to LIV golfer, two others

Liv pro Joaquin Niemann plays chip shot during 2023 Masters

LIV pro Joaquin Niemann finished T16 at the 2023 Masters.

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The 2024 Masters is inching closer and closer, and news about this year’s tournament is starting to trickle out. But Wednesday saw the biggest news yet: Augusta National is offering an invite to LIV Golf pro Joaquin Niemann.

The surprising announcement came Wednesday morning at 8:28 a.m. ET via a post on the official Masters X account. Along with Niemann, two otherwise unqualified pros were also given Masters invites: Thorbjørn Olesen and Ryo Hisatsune.

In a statement, Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said the special invites were part of a “long-standing tradition of inviting leading international players who are not otherwise qualified” for the Masters.

“Today’s announcement represents the [Masters] Tournament’s continued commitment towards developing interest in the game of golf across the world,” Ridley wrote in the statement. “We look forward to welcoming each player to Augusta National this spring.”

Host of LIV pros hunt for backdoor into majors this week on Asian Tour
By: Kevin Cunningham

At No. 58 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Denmark’s Olsesen is just short of the top-50 ranking needed to earn a Masters spot on his own. He still has time to sneak into the top 50, as long as he keeps up his strong recent play.

Japan’s Hisatsune is ranked No. 78 and earned his special invite as a result of being named DP World Tour Rookie of the Year in 2023.

Which leaves us with Niemann. The 25-year-old Chilean pro left the PGA Tour for LIV in the summer of 2022. He played in the 2021 and 2022 Masters as a PGA Tour member, then qualified for the 2023 Masters via his world ranking, where he finished T16.

But since LIV events don’t offer world ranking points, Niemann has seen his position plummet to No. 81, well outside the top-50 needed to tee it up at Augusta.

In addition to his stellar play on LIV, Niemann has expressed a strong interest in playing and winning majors, so he’s tried everything he could to earn world ranking points. That included playing the Australian swing late last year, where he won the Australian Open.

He also teed it up at the DP World Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic in January, where he finished T4.

Niemann is even in the field for this week’s Asian Tour International Series event in Oman, where he was hoping to earn more world ranking points. Now with Augusta’s announcement, Niemann won’t need the points to return to the Masters, though he may still need them for the any other majors he hopes to qualify for this season.

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