Originally created 03/27/06

Ames' win qualifies him for Masters, but he might pass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Players Championship winner Stephen Ames earned a three-year exemption into the Masters Tournament with his landslide victory Sunday.

He might use only the final two of those years.

"I have no plans of playing at Augusta," Mr. Ames said after beating the strongest field in golf at the TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course.

Mr. Ames was not in the Masters before the six-shot victory. He's in now, but he might take a rare pass because of a family obligation.

Mr. Ames, a native of Trinidad and Tobago and a Canadian citizen, has a vacation planned for the next two weeks in his native land with his wife, Jodi, and two sons. His wife is recovering from lung cancer surgery in July.

Asked what would happen if his family tried to talk him into playing the Masters, Mr. Ames said, "I'd rather go on vacation, to be truthful.

"It just wasn't on the schedule," he said of the Masters. "Now it is, obviously, so I've got to sit down and talk to them about it and see what happens. I haven't made my mind up. Nothing is final yet. I don't know. We'll see."

The 41-year-old made his Masters debut in 2005, tying for 45th place (73-74-75-75-297).

The Players Championship was the last chance to qualify for the 70th Masters. If not otherwise qualified, the winner of the event, along with those in the top 10 on the current money list and those in the top 50 in the World Golf Ranking, earn an invitation to Augusta.

In addition to Mr. Ames, Rory Sabbatini earned a spot by being first on the money list, and Arron Oberholser made it by being ninth on the money list and in the top 50 in the world ranking.

There are now 91 starters in the Masters, which begins April 6. That's two fewer than last year, and the smallest field since 2002, when 89 players teed it up.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.


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