When the PGA Tour announced this week it would offer a full allocation of FedEx Cup points to the series of six events currently known as the Fall Series, the proverbial ball was placed in the grass court of Augusta National.
See, the PGA Tour will alter it's year starting in October 2013. The Tour season will run from October-September, culminating in the finish of the FedEx Cup playoffs at the Tour Championship. Rather than continuing to treat the Fall Series as the lesser denizens of the schedule, the Tour decided to make them equal with any regular event.
That may or may not happen, as far as the Masters is concerned. The winner of any regular FedEx Cup event earns the champion a spot at Augusta National. It's unclear if they will do the same for Fall Series winners.
“I haven’t looked at the data that our folks have generated on the field impact,” said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem on Golf Channel. “One of their focuses there is that they like the field size and we’ll see how that plays out. I wouldn’t guess right now."
If the Masters did extend invites to the Fall Series winners, then as many as a half-dozen players could be added to a field already approaching the century mark the last two years.
This past April, 97 players were invited to the Masters. The year prior, it was 99. Only three times in Masters history has the field eclipsed the century mark. It hasn't happened since 1966, when 103 players competed.
Augusta prefers its fields more pruned, like its beautiful azaleas. Nearly 100 players is simply too much.
“It is borderline to be able to present the kind of competition that we want to,” said Masters chairman Billy Payne at the 2011 Masters. “It is more than we normally have – the most we have had in some 40-something years. We say every year in response to that question, that we look and we study the qualifications, which we do. But we are really going to look at it this year, because there is a maximum number of competitors for which we can give the experience that we want them to have and do it in a way that’s manageable. The hundred pushes that limit quite significantly.”