Golf Australia - - MASTERS 2018 -

AT the time of go­ing to press, 13 first-time play­ers had re­ceived in­vites to this year’s Masters. His­tory sug­gests they are at long odds to cap­ture the green jacket.

Only three play­ers have ever won the Masters at their first at­tempt – Hor­ton Smith at the in­au­gu­ral tour­na­ment in 1934, Gene Sarazen the fol­low­ing year and Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

Of the 13 debu­tantes, a tick over half are pro­fes­sion­als, with the high­est ranked play­ers in­clud­ing Amer­i­cans Tony Finau, Pat­ton Kizzire, Xan­der Schauf­fele and Wes­ley Bryan.

There will be plenty of in­ter­est from China in this year’s Masters, with World No.40 Hao­tong Li get­ting his first taste of Au­gusta, along­side coun­try­man Yuxin Lin – the bighit­ting teenager, who won the Asia Pa­cific Am­a­teur in New Zealand last Oc­to­ber.

Lin will be favoured to win the lead­ing am­a­teur ti­tle, while Li will be hop­ing to match his play at the Open Cham­pi­onship last July where he fin­ished tied fourth, gain­ing him an in­vite into the Masters.

“It’s a big gift,” a ju­bi­lant Li said when he found out he had qual­i­fied at Birkdale for a Masters in­vite. “This is huge … huge.”

“Ev­ery player dreams about the Masters … we hope we can go some day and play. Now I am.”

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