Rory McIlroy secured his US Masters spot with a joint third finish at last week’s South Africa Open.

It meant a rise to 39th in the world rankings, but more importantly a debut appearance at Augusta in April.

Rory McIlroy in US Masters bid

Fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell also made the cut, as the world’s top 50 at the end of the year cemented their places.  

England’s Justin Rose is also guaranteed a place as are compatriots Ross Fisher, Luke Donald and Oliver Wilson.

The surprise mover, assured of a crack at the coveted Green Jacket next spring, was South Africa’s Richard Sterne.

Wins at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the South Africa Open has seen Sterne climb 70 places to number 43.  

The field for the US Masters currently stands at 88, but with 13 PGA Tour events remaining, there are still chances to qualify.

And with the likes of Scott Verplank, Davis Love III and J.B. Holmes, all still outside the qualifying criteria, those events looks set to be fiercely contested.  

However, players can still qualify if they can force their way into the top 50 a week before the US Masters, which will be held from 10-13 April 2009.

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