It's a global race for spots in the Masters

Nine tournaments over the final three weeks of the season could determine who will play at Augusta National Golf Club in April.


While the PGA Tour season ended Nov. 2 when Davis Love III won at Disney -- no, the win did not qualify him for the Masters Tournament -- events around the globe are causing subtle changes in the top 50 in the world ranking that decides who gets a Masters Tournament invitation.

The top 50 at the end of the 2008 earn invitations to the first major of the year.

Former Augusta State golfer Oliver Wilson of England was 55th at the start of November, but a runner-up finish in the HSBC Champions has moved him up to No. 41, meaning J.B. Holmes likely will be the only Ryder Cup player who has yet to qualify for the Masters.

Jeev Milka Singh won the Singapore Open, moving him up 17 spots to No. 44. Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was languishing at No. 79 until he tied for fourth in Singapore and tied for second in the Hong Kong Open, giving him a chance at No. 49.

The biggest move belonged to Lin Wen-Twang of Taiwan, who won the Hong Kong Open and has moved up from No. 107 at the start of November to No. 50 going into the final three weeks.

The December schedule features three tournaments in South Africa, two in Australia, three on the Asian Tour and one in Japan.

Love, who missed the Masters last year, is 79th in the ranking after his Disney win.

BALLESTEROS SURGERY: Five-time major champion Seve Ballesteros underwent more surgery Tuesday in Madrid, Spain, this time to drain fluid from his brain.

Ballesteros was in stable condition in the intensive care unit after the operation to implant a valve in his brain, La Paz hospital said.

Doctors also repaired a bone defect stemming from one of the procedures the golf great has undergone since his initial operation on Oct. 24 to remove a malignant brain tumor.

TAKING A 'CUT' IN SALARY: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem had a $400,000 drop in his compensation last year, but the $4.8 million in salary and bonuses was still enough to be the equivalent of No. 3 on the money list for the second consecutive year.

The Sports Business Journal, citing the latest IRS forms the tour is required to file, said Finchem received $1.3 million in salary, $3.2 million in bonus and $240,000 in benefits. In 2006, he received about $5.2 million, which spokesman Ty Votaw attributed to an additional bonus the commissioner received for "extraordinary service in 2005."



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