Masters announces new cut and qualification rules

Augusta National and Masters Chairman Billy Payne announced two changes to the season's first major during his annual pre- tournament press conference Wednesday.

Payne announced the cut will be increased from 44 to 50 players and ties, plus those within 10 strokes of the leader, and amending three qualifications for an invitation to the event.

"In recent years, and as our field of participating players has grown, I have said repeatedly that we annually examine our invitation criteria in order to maintain Bobby Jones' desire to keep the Masters an intimate gathering of the world's best competitors and to afford all players a reasonable expectation of completion in the reduced hours of sunlight available each spring," said Payne.

Previous winners will continue to earn an invite to the tournament, including those who win the events providing full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship. The latter includes the fall tournaments that will become full-point events in the PGA Tour's new 2013-14 schedule, which will increase the number of players invited to the Masters.

That change caused tournament officials to drop invitations to the Masters' top-12 finishers from the top 16, the top-four players from the U.S. Open from the top eight, which will make the qualification criteria consistent with the British Open and the PGA Championship, and removing the qualification from the year-end, top-30 PGA Tour money winners.

Payne also said the only significant change to the golf course for this year's event was that the 14th green was rebuilt and regrassed, and a heating and cooling system was added beneath its surface.