I've had a love affair with the Masters since I was a kid. I can
list the last 15 champions and tell you where I was when they
won. When Jack Nicklaus won his sixth green jacket, in 1986, I
was living in Berlin because my dad was an Army golf pro there.
When Tiger kicked butt in '97, I was home in El Paso. So last
May, after I had won my first PGA Tour event, the Kemper Open,
you can understand how bummed I was when reporters asked me about
finally getting to play in the Masters. "Check your facts, guys,"
I said. "This doesn't get me into Augusta."
Here's the catch: The Masters revamped its entry requirements
last April, and winning a Tour event no longer gets you in. Now
you have to place high in a major, finish in the top 40 on the
Tour's money list the year before or be among the top 50 in the
World Ranking a month before Augusta. Last season I was 67th in
earnings, and I'm currently 124th in the ranking. I'm not the
only guy getting left out in the cold. Olin Browne, Brad Faxon,
Brian Henninger, J.L. Lewis and Tom Pernice Jr. also won Tour
events in 1999 but don't have a Masters invitation.
Like a lot of my friends on Tour, I'm not happy with the new
rules. I had the best week of my life on the hardest tour in the
world. A victory on Tour should be rewarded with a trip to
Augusta. There are many ways to get into the U.S. and British
Opens and the PGA, but what made the Masters so special was that
winning was basically the only way for a regular guy like me to
There's still an outside chance that I'll get in. I'm going to
play all seven West Coast tournaments, and I'll be at Doral, the
last tournament before the cutoff for making the top 50 in the
Nevertheless, if I could make one wish come true, it would be
that the nice gentlemen at the Masters go back to the old rules
and send me an invitation.
Rich Beem, 29, missed the cut at the Sony Open.