The South African showed his excitement about the news on Christmas Eve:
Ernie Els @TheBig_Easy
Thank you for a Great Xmas present! @TheMasters Can't wait!2017-12-24 19:38:54
Els earned a spot in the last five years after winning the 2012 British Open, but he was unable to qualify on his own since.
There are several ways to earn an invitation to Augusta, including a lifetime bid for any former champion. While the 48-year-old has four major titles on his resume, he has never won the Masters. He has finished second twice.
The top-50 players in the world golf rankings also get invites, but Els finds himself far outside that mark after a disappointing 2017 season.
He ranks No. 592 overall after making the cut in just seven of his 20 tournaments entered last season, never finishing inside the top 25. His 53rd-place performance at the Masters—with a score of 20 over par—was actually one of his best results of the year.
Still, his past success and notoriety were enough to get him back to Augusta for the tournament in April.
Els becomes the first person to earn a special exemption for this event since Ryo Ishikawa in 2013.