As the 80th Masters fast approaches, we consider an elite group of golfers who have played in at least 100 Masters rounds

The Masters celebrates its past victors like no other tournament.

More than the first major of the year, the Masters is also a mark of golfing longevity, so it is little surprise that in this category the name at the top of the Masters leaderboard is Gary Player: 52 Masters appearances between 1957 and 2009 and a total of 164 Masters rounds played.

No one in the history of the Masters can touch him although Jack Nicklaus came close: 45 Masters appearances and 163 rounds, while Arnold Palmer amassed more appearances than Nicklaus, 50, but less rounds, 150.

A little reminder of why these three are the genuine ‘Big Three’ of modern golf.

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Reaching 100 rounds in the Masters is some feat – even for past champions with their automatic invitations – and only 19 golfers have achieved it.

Of those 19, only two are European: Bernhard Langer and Sandy Lyle. Langer, champion in 1985 and 1993, has played in 32 Masters and in 110 rounds (ranked 14th overall in Masters history), while Lyle, the 1988 champ, has played in 34 Masters but has missed the cut more than Langer with a total of 102 rounds played.

Jim Herman earns Masters start with Houston win

Top five Europeans in Masters rounds played: 

  1. Bernhard Langer (Ger) – 110 (32 Masters appearances)
  2. Sandy Lyle (Scot) – 102 (34 Masters)
  3. Seve Ballesteros (Spa) – 92 (29 Masters)
  4. Jose Maria Olazabal (Spa) – 90 (27 Masters)
  5. Ian Woosnam (Wales) – 80 (28 Masters)

Masters preview

Nick Faldo, Europe’s only other Masters champion, comes in next with 76 rounds in 23 appearances, the last of which was already 10 years ago in 2006.

This year, Langer, Lyle and Woosnam are in the field and will hope to add four rounds to their career total, rather than just the two with a missed cut.

Already a winner on the 2016 PGA Tour Champions, the evergreen Langer stands the best chance.

Also adding to impressive Masters careers next week will be Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, who both have 58 Masters rounds to their names to date, despite not having the lifetime’s luxury of the automatic invitation.

And special mention must go to American Gene Littler.

He is the only golfer to have played 100 rounds of the Masters who is not a past champion.

Littler, now aged 85, played in 26 Masters between 1954 and 1980 and totaled exactly 100 rounds.

Littler came closest to winning in 1970, when he lost to Billy Casper in an 18-hole playoff.

Robin Barwick travelled to the 2016 Masters with Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz is global sponsor of the 2016 Masters Tournament