AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Japan's leading golfer, Ryo Ishikawa, has received a special invitation to the Masters -- for the second time.
While former major champions such as Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have still to earn places at Augusta National, the 53rd-ranked Ishikawa can look forward to his fourth successive appearance. The 20-year-old was also given a special invitation for his debut in 2009.
Ishikawa has won nine times on the Japan Golf Tour, and was the second-youngest player to compete in the Masters at age 17 in 2009.
"Historically, the Masters has invited international players not otherwise qualified to expand the tournament's global reach," said Masters Chairman Billy Payne. "Ryo Ishikawa is an accomplished player on the Japan Golf Tour and we believe his presence will help increase interest not only in his home country, but also throughout Asia."
In the last 10 years, the only non-Asian to receive a special invitation was Greg Norman in 2002.
Goosen and Els, currently ranked 52nd and 65th respectively, need to win a PGA Tour event or climb into the world's top 50 by the end of the month to return to the Masters.