Shane Lowry ended the 2012 season ranked a career high of 52nd in the final Official World Ranking but an agonising 43 pts away from an early invitation to the Masters.
The Offaly star was determined to break into the world’s top 50 before the end of the season following his victory in the Portugal Masters.
But after giving up the chance to try for the PGA Tour card by withdrawing from the Q-School, he cruelly missed the final event of the European Tour season through illness and ended up just shy of a memorable Christmas present in the shape of an invitation to make his debut at Augusta National next year.
The Clara man still has plenty of time to make it to the 2013 Masters with the Top 50 on April 1 as well as the winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation between now and next year’s Valero Texas Open also getting the call.
Lowry will get his first chance to win a PGA Tour event in February, when he is almost certain to tee it up amongst the top 64 in the world who will qualify for the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson.
The final ranking of the season decided the Top 50 who will make it to Augusta National irrespective of their ranking in April.
Rory McIlroy finished the year at No 1 with a lead of 4.597 points over Luke Donald, which is the biggest end of year lead by the top ranked player since Tiger Woods headed Phil Mickelson by 6.412 points at the end of 2009.
Graeme McDowell rose two places this year to 15th while 52nd ranked Lowry ended Padraig Harrington’s 15-year reign as the leading player from the Republic of Ireland at the end of a calendar year.
Ranked 85th at the start of the year, Harrington rose 26 places to 59th at the end of 2012 and looks certain now to take his place in the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson.
Despite winning his fourth European Tour title, Michael Hoey fell 36 places to 138th while Darren Clarke slipped 97 spots to 145th. Peter Lawrie fell two places this year to 155th while Paul McGinley climbed 180 spots to 292nd, the biggest move of any Irish player inside the top 300.