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MASTERS MAKES CHANGES TO INVITATION LIST

Greg Norman won't have to worry about a special invitation to next year's Masters.

Golf's most exclusive major championship on Monday announced sweeping changes to its invitation list, a move that likely will increase the number of players in the field but also make sure they are among the best in the world.

Effective immediately, the Masters will take the top 50 players from the World Golf Rankings who have not otherwise qualified. And starting with the 2000 Masters, winning a PGA Tour event will no longer be worth a ticket to Augusta National Golf Club.

The changes are the first to the invitation list since 1990, when members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team no longer qualified automatically for the Masters.

Augusta National will invite the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the year, as well as the top 50 in the rankings after the Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship -- or four weeks before the Masters.

That takes care of Norman, who is ranked No. 15 but would not have otherwise qualified.

His five-year exemption from winning the 1993 British Open expired this year, and he failed to qualify through other means because of shoulder surgery that forced him to miss three majors and the last six months of the PGA season.

In La Quinta, Calif., Mike Weir of Canada, who missed retaining his PGA Tour exemption by just under $20,000, proved he belongs on the tour Monday with a resounding win in the PGA Tour final qualifying tournament.

Weir, a left-hander who played collegiate golf at BYU, fired a closing 8-under 64 at the PGA West's Weiskopf Course to earn medalist honors by three shots in the 108-hole event.

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