Masters chairman Billy Payne hints at possible field reduction

Jonathan Wall

Are you one of the lucky 99 players playing in this week's Masters tournament? If so, you better enjoy this week, because it could be your last, gentleman! No, the tournament isn't leaving its home in Augusta, Ga., for another destination. But there could be a shakeup in the qualification process for getting in.

This year's field happens to be the fourth largest in the tournament's 75-year history, and the largest since 1966. During his State of the Masters address on Wednesday, chairman Billy Payne hinted that the size of the tournament field was pushing the "limit quite significantly."

There are currently 19 different qualifications to enter the Masters, meaning you have a number of ways to get into the tournament. The logical way to close the loophole -- if you can even call it that -- is to significantly cut the number of ways to qualify.

But does the Masters really need to cut the field? The other three major championships all have field sizes that dwarf the Masters. But that makes sense when you consider the honor that comes with getting an invite.

Honestly, I think the tournament field is just fine at 99. Sure, you have a lot of guys on the course on Thursday and Friday, but if you look at some of the winners over the last 10 or so years (Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera and Mike Weir come to mind), it makes sense to give some hope to some of the lesser known players in the field by allowing them the chance to play in the Masters.

Do I think the field should be increased to 156 like the PGA Championship, British Open and U.S. Open? No. But I don't see anything wrong with making the tournament even more interesting by allowing more guys to get in the mix and make history at Augusta National.