Golf: Ernie Els receives special invitation to 2018 Masters: reports

Ernie Els' management reportedly confirmed that the 48-year-old South African had been given a special entry into the field for next April's major championship.
Ernie Els' management reportedly confirmed that the 48-year-old South African had been given a special entry into the field for next April's major championship. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Four-time major champion Ernie Els has received a special exemption to compete in next year's Masters golf tournament, multiple websites reported Monday.

Golfweek, Golf Digest and Golf magazine reported that his management had confirmed the 48-year-old South African had been given a special entry into the field for next April's major championship at Augusta National Golf Club.

"Thank you for a Great Xmas present! @TheMasters Can't wait!" Els tweeted on Sunday without elaborating.

The special invitation was the first issued by the Masters since Japan's Ryo Ishikawa received one in 2013.

Els played what he thought would be his final Masters last April, his last entry into the Augusta National field from a five-year exemption after winning the 2012 British Open.

Another Masters start would be the 24th at Augusta National for Els, who played in his 100th career major tournament last August at the PGA Championship.

Els won the 1994 and 1997 US Open titles and the 2002 and 2012 British Opens. His best career finish at the Masters was runner-up in 2000 and 2004.

He has six top-10 finishes at Augusta National and was 53rd at the 2017 Masters.