Ernie Els, Ryo Ishikawa & the Irksome Masters Invite Issue

11/5/11 - Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images AsiaPac
With the Masters just days away, fans, players and members of the media are weighing in on the 'special invitations' debate.

The crux of the controversy, in the minds of many, seems to have boiled down to the special invitation received by Ryo Ishikawa... and the one not (up to this point) received by Ernie Els.

Interestingly, the two players being pitted against each other in the popular debate, happen to have a special relationship that transcends the current polemic. Having played mercurially together at the 2011 Presidents Cup, the likable duo became known as the "the kid and the veteran" and after two losses,  Els' insistence on keeping the pairing intact, was rewarded when Ishikawa summoned the steely nerves required to birdie the final three holes and win their last match together. 

The Masters, with its limited field and mystical aura, is the event every golfer dreams of,  and an element of controversy surrounding the elusive "special invites" is not uncommon,  with little hope of influencing the powers-that-be in Augusta, the opinionating doesn't ultimately amount to much.  It can, however be divisive... and perhaps counter-productive to the global golf cause... in the end. 

A couple of years ago, the always-outspoken Colin Montgomerie raised the invite issue with his "a la China" comment, which was seen by some players as anti-Asian, and... not surprisingly... offended many.

This year, the majority of players and fans appear to be taking a pragmatic view on the issue of the invite.  Acknowledging the attributes of each of these two players (and other's who barely missed inclusion) most seem to accept the fact that the committee at Augusta does things their own way and isn't likely to acknowledge... much less respond to... complaints, criticism or supplication.

In fact, the powerful men on Magnolia Lane are most likely absorbed with an issue potentially much more controversial than their decision on the 2012 special invitations: her name is Virginia Rometty,
and it's a fair guess she's getting more attention from the committee members then Els and Ishikawa combined. 

Note: Ryo Ishikawa fans (like me) can cheer him on with a personal message... here's how to do it.