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Unfortunately, notable absentees missing at Masters

AP commentary

It’s rare to have a player in the top 40 missing from the Masters, much less four of them.

Rarer still is to show up at Augusta National and notice who’s missing.

That element won’t change, especially with so much anticipation from waiting 18 months to hear: “Fore, please. Tiger Woods now driving.”

And with so much intrigue about chasing a green jacket two weeks before Thanksgiving.

The chase will not include Daniel Berger, the No. 13 player in the world.

Berger received more attention from being left off the November invitation list than if he had been playing in the Masters. It became a bigger story than necessary because he was holding out hope that his three months of great play this summer, including a victory at Colonial, might count toward a major that was supposed to be held in the spring.

With the Masters a week away, Berger has company among players in the top 40.

Viktor Hovland, a former U.S. Amateur champion from Norway, won the Puerto Rico Open and has relied on solid, steady golf to reach No. 24 in the world.

Ryan Palmer is having a resurgent year with five top-10 finishes and two close calls. He is No. 33, his best world ranking in five years.

Not to be overlooked is Harris English, who was No. 373 in the world but had four top 10s in five events, including fourth in the U.S. Open. Now he is up to No. 35 in the world.

All of them will be watching a Masters without spectators, without blooms, without roars and without them.

It couldn’t be any other way.

This is the 2020 Masters, and it was meant to be played April 9-12 with a field of 96 players who began qualifying a week after Woods won his fifth green jacket.

This is not a time for Berger, Hovland, Palmer and English to wonder what they’re missing, because they were never part of the 2020 Masters.

This is the time for them to celebrate what they’ve achieved to at least be part of the conversation, and to look forward to the next Masters. They earned it.

All four are guaranteed spots at Augusta National next April by reaching the Tour Championship, no small feat for any of them.

They can expect that cream-colored invitation in the mail from Augusta National in December.

There might be spectators then among the blazing blooms and Georgia pines. And their names will be called in an introduction not heard anywhere else.

“Fore, please.”

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