Originally created 03/28/04

Players vying for final invites



PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - The Masters Tournament hopes of John Daly and Loren Roberts grew dimmer after poor third rounds in Saturday's Players Championship.

Daly and Roberts are the best-known of a small group of players trying to earn one of the final invitations into the 68th Masters, scheduled April 8-11.

Today is the cutoff for making the Masters. To get in, non-qualifiers must either be in the top 10 on the current PGA Tour money list, or be in the top 50 in the World Golf Ranking.

Daly, who is ninth on the money list and 53rd in the world ranking, shot 4-over-par 76 on Saturday and is tied for 66th. His best hope of returning to the Masters (he didn't qualify in 2003) is to try to move into top 50 in the ranking with a top-20 finish today.

Daly will have to go against form to do that. In 12 appearances in the Players Championship, he has only two top-20 finishes (a tie for 16th and a tie for 19th).

Roberts, who is 48th in the ranking, appeared in good shape to remain in the top 50 after opening with 73-70. He's in a tenuous position now after 79 on Saturday dropped him into a tie for 81st place.

Roberts was so confident that he would make the Masters that he arranged a tentative practice round during Masters week with amateur Brandt Snedeker, a fellow Tennesseean.

Daly and Roberts have both played in the Masters nine times. Roberts has two top-five finishes at Augusta National Golf Club, and Daly has one.

Another player in danger of dropping out of the top 50 is Brian Davis, the No. 47-ranked player. Davis, an Englishman who tied for sixth in the 2003 British Open, missed the cut in the Players Championship.

Three players are locks to remain in the top 50 and join the 89 other starters in the Masters field. Todd Hamilton, 37th in the ranking, is tied for 74th after 76 on Saturday, but will remain in the top 50 no matter what happens today. Craig Parry, 38th in the ranking, is tied for ninth place. Barring a final-round collapse, he should move up in the ranking. And Trevor Immelman, who is 41st in the ranking, is expected to stay in the top 50 after withdrawing before the tournament.

Kevin Sutherland, Paul Stankowski, John Huston and Duffy Waldorf could also earn Masters invitations today. Sutherland and Stankowski would have to win. Waldorf needs a top-five finish; Huston needs a top 10.

Sutherland, the second-round co-leader, is tied for second place, two shots behind Adam Scott. Stankowski is tied for fourth place, three behind Scott.

Sutherland is 92nd on the money list and 121st in the ranking; Stankowski is 119th on the money list and 179th in the ranking.

Huston, 56th in the ranking, is tied for 26th place. Waldorf, who is 30th on the money list and 60th in the ranking, is tied for ninth place, four off Scott's pace.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851

or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.