2 surprise players accept special invitations to play 2023 Masters

Kazuki Higa and Gordon Sargent

Kazuki Higa (left) and Gordon Sargent (right) will tee it up at the Masters in April.

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On Thursday, Masters Tournament Chairman Fred Ridley announced the inclusion of two additional players into the 2023 Masters field: Japanese professional Kazuki Higa and American amateur Gordon Sargent, both of whom will be playing at Augusta National for the first time.

Higa, 27, currently competes on the Japan Golf Tour, where he notched four victories last year, earning the top spot on the tour’s Order of Merit, and bringing his career win total to six. He’s currently ranked No. 68 in the world.

Sargent is the reigning NCAA Division I Men’s Individual Champion, and is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. He’s currently ranked fourth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

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While there is always an amateur contingent at the Masters, the entrants are usually limited to the winner and runner-up of the U.S. Amateur Championship, the British Amateur champion, the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, the the Latin America Amateur champion and the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. Sargent is the first amateur to accept a special invitation to the Masters since Aaron Baddeley in 2000.

Amateur competitors have the opportunity to stay onsite in Augusta National’s storied Crow’s Nest during tournament week, and are paired with former Masters champions for the first two rounds.

“The Masters Tournament prioritizes opportunities to elevate both amateur and professional golf around the world,” Ridley said in a press release. “Thus, we have extended invitations to two deserving players not otherwise qualified. Whether on the international stage or at the elite amateur level, each player has showcased their talent in the past year. We look forward to hosting them at Augusta National in April.”

The inclusion of Higa and Sargent brings the total field list to 80 invitees. The 2023 Masters begins on April 6.

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As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.

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