Philadelphia, PA – With the season's first major in less than two weeks, this past weekend was a key deadline for players hoping to get into the field.
Anyone inside the 50 in the world rankings that were posted on Monday got into the field at The Masters, if they were not already qualified.
Three players -- Henrik Stenson, Fredrik Jacobson and Richard Sterne -- earned a spot at Augusta via the rankings.
Stenson, who shared second place at the Houston Open, had several players fates in his hand. Thongchai Jaidee started the final round in Thailand in second place, and a win could have moved him into the top 50. Jaidee did himself in with a closing 72 that dropped him into 10th place.
Marcel Siem was in the lead at the European Tour event in Morocco. Had Jaidee won, he would have gotten into the top 50, but Siem would have pushed him out with a victory. In turn, Stenson could have done the same to Siem with a top 13 finish.
Siem cruised to victory in Morocco. Afterwards, he said, "That will be unbelievable (to make The Masters). It's been my dream since I was a kid so if that comes true it will be unbelievable. It would be wonderful to play The Masters. I just want to be on that ground. I'm not going to cry, but it would be very emotional."
Stenson, who has made the cut in four of his seven appearances at Augusta National, fired a 66 to take second place in Houston. That easily moved him into the top 50 in the rankings, and kept Siem from moving inside that number.
"It's been (on my mind) all week a little bit. As I said earlier in the week, it's all about keeping my head down and doing my business and I know I have a good chance to do it," Stenson said after taking second in Houston. "I put the foundation down at Bay Hill last week, I finished tied for eighth and moved up to 53rd in the world rankings. I knew a top 10 would pretty much make it here."
D.A. Points sat through a long weather delay, then returned to the course and closed out the victory at the Houston Open. Points didn't get into the top 50 in the world, but the win was enough to get him to The Masters.
"I never thought that I wasn't going to make it," said Points of Augusta. "I just thought this is an opportunity and just like next week, I signed up for next week. I wasn't sure if I was going to go and then I thought well, I'm playing pretty good this week. Let's see if I can kind of get on a little bit of a roll, so I signed up for next week as well."
Points won't need to win this week's Texas Open, now. If the winner of the Texas Open isn't already in the field for the Masters, he'll get in and be the last player in the field.
The losers from the weekend were Jaidee, Siem, Geoff Ogilvy and Charles Howell III. Ogilvy started last week ranked 50th in the world, but missed the cut in Houston and fell to 55th in the rankings, so he'll miss the year's first major.
Howell closed with a 66 in Houston to grab a share of 10th, but that only got him to 54th in the world. The Augusta native needed a tie for third or better to get into the field at Augusta. Howell will miss The Masters for the fourth time in the last five years.
The weekend's winners were clearly Points and Stenson. Points earned his second trip to Augusta, while Stenson will play The Masters for the eighth consecutive year.
This week's Texas Open is the last chance to make it into the field at Augusta. Among those playing well that could win, and get in, are Charlie Beljan, Bud Cauley, Jordan Spieth and Cameron Tringale.
No pressure, guys.
KIM RETURNS TO THE SIGHT OF HER MAJOR HEARTBREAK
It was a simple tap in. Just a 1-foot putt. And she missed.
I.K. Kim could have kicked in the winning putt at the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year. She left her birdie putt a foot away, and instead of waiting for her playing partner to play out, she went ahead and putted out.
Unfortunately for Kim, it took two putts from just a foot away. Missing the par putt dropped her into a playoff, which she lost to Sun Young Yoo.
Kim could have been crushed and not come back. She posted just one top-20 finish in her next seven events, but regrouped and managed to collect three top-10 and six top-20 finishes the remainder of 2012.
The 24-year-old is coming off a runner-up finish at the Kia Classic, which was her best finish since her heartbreaking loss at Mission Hills. Kim, who has three top-13 finishes in four starts this season, hopes to atone for her mistake this week.
In six full seasons on tour, she has 10 top-10 finishes in major championships. If Kim can add a win to that total this week, she would erase the demons from last year.
* Ivan Lendl and Petr Korda won nine grand slam titles between them on the tennis courts. This week, their daughters Isabelle Lendl and Jessica Korda will both tee it up at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Isabelle, who is a senior at Florida, has seven amateur or collegiate titles to her name, while Jessica won last year's Women's Australian Open. Isabelle is one of 10 amateurs playing the season's first major on the LPGA Tour.
* The PGA Tour has now had fourteen straight American winners to open the season surpassing the run of 13 to start the 1989 season.