AUGUSTA, Georgia (USA TODAY) - At his annual news conference Wednesday, Augusta National chairman Billy Payne announced some tweaks to the Masters qualification formula and a fairly significant change to the cut that will take effect this year.
Instead of the top 44 players and ties playing the weekend at Augusta National, as it has been since 1962, the top 50 and ties after Friday's second round will make the cut. The 10-shot rule remains in effect, meaning more than 50 players could make the cut as long as they are within 10 shots of the leader.
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"We believe offering more playing opportunities for participants over the weekend is a positive for everyone involved," Payne said.
The other changes were dictated, Payne said, by the PGA Tour's restructured schedule in which the new season will start in October with the Fry's.com Open and wrap around to the Tour Championship in September 2014. Those six wraparound fall events - which weren't part of the FedExCup previously - will now get full points status for the 2013-14 year, and as such, winning one of them will earn an automatic qualification to the 2014 Masters.
"I have been personally been fully committed to players gaining entry to the tournament after winning a PGA Tour event," Payne said.
But in order to accommodate those winners, Payne said, only the top 12 from this year's Masters will earn invitations next year (instead of top 16) and the top four from the U.S. Open (instead of top eight) will qualify. Also, the top 30 from the PGA Tour money list is no longer an automatic qualification for Masters entry.
Payne said the adjustment was made to keep the tournament "an intimate gathering of the world's best competitors and afford all players a reasonable expectation of completion in the reduced hours of early spring."
• Praised new members Condolleezza Rice and Darla Moore, the club's first female members. They were announced as members in August.
• Sidestepped the issue of the proposed anchoring ban, suggesting it would be inappropriate to comment until the final decision is made.