There will be an extra gift under the Christmas tree for South African George Coetzee and Danish player Thorbjorn Olesen. Both managed to finish inside the top 50 of the final Official World Golf Rankings of the year which brings with it an invitation to the 2013 Masters.
Coetzee was ranked 70th until a runner-up finish on the South African Sunshine Tour's SA Open last month, which vaulted him to 49th in the world. Despite finishing tied for 39th in his next start, Coetzee managed to hang on to his top-50 ranking as he played in this past weekend's Alfred Dunhill Championship. A final-round 65 enabled him to finish in a tie for 10th and secure his first ever invitation to Augusta. In 2012, Coetzee played three of the four majors, missing the cut in each.
In Olesen's case, it was simply doing nothing that earned him a Masters invite. Geoff Ogilvy's fourth place finish at the Australian PGA Championship saw him climb six places and put him momentarily at No. 50. But with no more official events scheduled for the remaining two weeks, Ogilvy will surrender his spot back to Olesen by 0.01 ranking points when the final rankings are calculated. The Dane, will also be making his Masters debut next year, hasn't played since the European Tour's Race to Dubai final last month.
Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Branden Grace, Bill Haas, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jason Day and Matteo Manassero were the other players to earn Masters invites via the year end world rankings.
Ogilvy, Shane Lowry, Henrik Stenson, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Marcus Fraser were the other golfers hovering around the No. 50 mark as the golf season came to an end this past weekend. They, and others, will still have a chance to earn an invitation to Augusta by either winning a PGA Tour event or being in the top 50 in the week prior to the Masters Tournament.
Rory McIlroy will not only finish the year as the world number one ranked player but the Ulsterman goes into 2013 with a comfortable lead atop the official rankings.
The 23-year-old, who won four tournaments in 2012 including his second major at the PGA Championships, leads Luke Donald and Tiger Woods, who made a sizeable leap after finishing 2011 at No. 23 in the world.
Others making big gains into the 10 over the course of the last year include Justin Rose (+14), Louis Oosthuizen (+34), Bubba Watson (+13), Jason Dufner (+24) and Brandt Snedeker (+28).
Graham DeLaet finishes the year as the top-ranked Canadian at No. 177 in the world. That's a jump of 435 places for the Weyburn, Saskatchewan golfer compared to 2011, which was spent recovering from back surgery.
David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., will finish the year ranked 224, an increase of 30 spots, while Brad Fritsch will begin his first full PGA Tour campaign at No. 296 in the world.
The 83 players who have qualified for the 77th Masters (Players listed in only one category for which they are eligible)
MASTERS CHAMPIONS: Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Tiger Woods, Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara, Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize, Craig Stadler, Tom Watson.
U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONS (five years): Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Lucas Glover.
BRITISH OPEN CHAMPIONS (five years): Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington.
PGA CHAMPIONS (five years): Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer, Y.E. Yang.
PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIPS CHAMPIONS (three years): Matt Kuchar, K.J. Choi, Tim Clark.
U.S. AMATEUR CHAMPION AND RUNNER-UP: a-Steven Fox, a-Michael Weaver.
BRITISH AMATEUR CHAMPION: a-Alan Dunbar.
U.S. AMATEUR PUBLIC LINKS CHAMPION: a-T.J. Vogel.
U.S. MID-AMATEUR CHAMPION: a-Nathan Smith.
ASIAN AMATEUR CHAMPION: a-Guan Tianlang.
TOP 16 AND TIES-2012 MASTERS: Peter Hanson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Hunter Mahan, Kevin Na.
TOP EIGHT AND TIES-2012 U.S. OPEN: Michael Thompson, David Toms, John Peterson, Jason Dufner.
TOP FOUR AND TIES-2012 BRITISH OPEN: Brandt Snedeker.
TOP FOUR AND TIES-2012 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: David Lynn, Carl Pettersson.
TOP 30-2012 PGA TOUR MONEY LIST: Luke Donald, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney, Bo Van Pelt, Ryan Moore, Robert Garrigus, Scott Piercy, John Huh, Ben Curtis.
PGA TOUR EVENT WINNERS SINCE 2012 MASTERS (FULL FEDEX CUP POINTS AWARDED): Marc Leishman, Ted Potter Jr.
FIELD FROM THE 2012 TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: John Senden.
TOP 50 FROM FINAL WORLD RANKING IN 2012: Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Branden Grace, Bill Haas, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jason Day, Hiroyuki Fujita, Matteo Manassero, Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, George Coetzee, Thorbjorn Olesen.
TOP 50 FROM WORLD RANKING ON MARCH 31: TBD.
SPECIAL FOREIGN INVITATIONS: TBD