The Masters Tournament is one of men's professional golf's four major championships. The event is rich in tradition, from the par-3 tournament held the day before the Masters begins to the green jacket awarded to every Masters champion. The tournament’s rules are set by the Masters Committee at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
The Masters is played annually in early April; the final round is traditionally played on the second Sunday of the month. The tournament has always been held at Augusta National, which was founded by legendary amateur golfer Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts. Jones also co-designed the course and helped attract a premier field to the first Masters tournament in 1934.
The Masters is an invitation-only event and has the smallest field of any major championship. Depending on how many golfers the tournament committee invites, the field generally numbers in the mid-90s. Players are grouped in threesomes for the first two rounds, after which the field is cut to the low 44 players, plus ties, along with any other players within 10 shots of the lead. Players are grouped in pairs for the final two rounds.
The Masters is played according to the official Rules of Golf, as published by the United States Golf Association. It’s a standard 72-hole stroke-play event. First-place ties are decided via a sudden-death playoff.
As of 2012 there are 20 qualification categories for the Masters including: all past Masters champions; the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and British Open winners for the previous five years; The Players Championship winners for the previous three years; the current U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up, plus the champions of the British Amateur, Asian Amateur, U.S. Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Mid-Amateur tournaments; the top 16 players plus ties from the previous year’s Masters; the top eight players plus ties from the previous year’s U.S. Open; the top four players plus ties from the previous year’s PGA Championship and British Open; the 30 leaders on the previous calendar year’s PGA Tour money list; winners of all previous PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, dating back to the previous year’s Masters; everyone qualifying for the previous year’s season-ending Tour Championship; the 50 leaders on the final World Golf Rankings for the previous calendar year; and the 50 leaders on the World Golf Rankings published the week before the current Masters. Additionally, the tournament committee may invite other golfers who are not otherwise qualified.