PGA TOUR Priority Rankings – Who’s In The Field

How does the PGA TOUR fill the field each week? Think you have it figured out? Yeah, I did too until I started doing some math which led to some research. Seemed simple enough, the top 125 from last year’s FedExCup Points List, they’re in. Not so fast. That group is actually 20th, yes 20th on the priority list. Here’s where the math started.

There is the 125 from the FedExCup (FEC) Points List. Then the top 25 from the Korn Ferry Tour regular season. Add 50 from the KFT playoffs (some would include members from the regular season 25). Don’t forget 126-150 on last year’s FEC Points list as well as minor medicals, major medicals, veteran status, lifetime members, Monday qualifiers, etc.

Now, sure, one player can cover multiple categories but when you add everyone up you’re looking at over 250 players. Considering there are 120-156 spots at each TOUR stop, except for The Masters, The WGC Events and The FEC Playoff events which are significantly smaller fields, the math says you have 100 players with no PGA TOUR Event to play any given week.

Confused yet? Me too, that’s why I dug deeper. To nobody’s surprise, the PGA TOUR priority rankings are way more complicated than they should be but that’s how the TOUR rolls. Sit back, relax and let’s churn through the 39 different exemption categories. Most are self explanatory, but I’ll do my best to clarify the ones that aren’t.

2018 – 2019 Priority Ranking

  1. Winners of PGA Championship or U.S. Open prior to 1970 or in the last five season including current season
  2. Winners of THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP in the last five season or current season
  3. Winners of The Masters Tournament in the last five season or current season (SICK alpha move by the TOUR prioritizing THE PLAYERS ahead of The Masters)
  4. Winners of The Open Championship in the last five seasons or current season
  5. Winners of TOUR Championship in last three season (No, I have no idea why they capitalize everything like that)

  6. Winners of World Golf Championships in the last three seasons or current season
    1. Winners of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Memorial Tournament in the last three seasons or current season

  7. Leader from the final FedExCup Points List in each of the last five season

  8. Leader from the final PGA TOUR Money List 2014-2016

  9. Winners of PGA TOUR co-sponsored or approved tournaments, whose victories are considered official, within the last two season, or current season; winners receive an additional season of exemption for each additional win, up to five season (This is the exemption you hear about when someone wins and they say something like, “How does it feel knowing you can set your schedule for the next two years?”)

  10. Tournament winner in the past two season (*Amateur)

  11. Players among the top 50 in career earnings as of the end of the preceding season may elect to use a one-time exemption for the following season

    1. Players among the top 25 in career earnings as of the end of the preceding season may elect to use a one-time exemption for the following season

  12. Sponsors exemptions (a maximum of 8, which may include amateurs with a handicap of 0 or less), on the following conditions:

    1. Not less than two sponsors invitees shall be PGA TOUR members not otherwise exempt
    2. Not less than two of the 2018 top finishers on The Korn Ferry Tour, if not all can otherwise be accomodated
    3. PGA TOUR members may receive unlimited sponsor exemptions, non-TOUR members may receive a max of seven
  13. Two international players designated by the Commissioner
  14. The current PGA Club Professional Champion up to 6 open events (3 must be opposite The Open Championship and/or WGC Events), in addition to any other sponsor exemptions, the exemption does not apply to limited field events

  15. PGA section Champion or Player of the year in the section which the championship is played

  16. Four low scorers at Open qualifying, held the Monday of tournament week (see Monday qualifiers)

  17. Past champions of the event being contested that week, if co-sponsored by The PGA TOUR and the same tournament sponsor), as follows:
    1. Winners prior to July 28th, 1970: unlimited exemptions for such events
    2. Winners after January 1st, 2000: five season of exemptions for such events (no idea what happens to the 30 champions in between)
  18. Life Members (who have been active members of The PGA TOUR for 15 years and have won at least 20 co-sponsored events)

  20. Top 125 on the previous season’s FedExCup Points List (SICK, 20th, WOW)

  21. Players who finished greater than or equal to the top 125 on the 2017-2018 PGA TOUR Official Seaseon FedExCup Points List through The Wyndham Championship as non-members (This year’s example, Colin Morikawa)

  22. Major Medical Extension: If granted by the Commissioner, if not otherwise eligible, and if needed to fill the field, Special Medical Extension
  23. Leading money winner from the previous season’s top 25 regular season players using combined money earned on the official Korn Ferry Tour regular season money list and Korn Ferry Tour Finals money list and three-time winners from previous season’s Korn Ferry Tour

  24. Leading money winner from Korn Ferry Tour medical

  25. Top 10 and ties, not otherwise exempt, among professionals from the previous open tournament whose victory has official status are exempt into the next open tournament whose victory has official status

  26. Top 50 and ties, Korn Ferry Tour finals from prior season (reshuffled)




  30. Players winning three Korn Ferry Tour events during the current season

  31. Minor Medical Extension (of course if granted by the Commissioner)

  32. 126-150 prior season’s FedExCup Points List (reshuffled)

  34. Reorder category (Players are reshuffled based on results in blocks of four to five tournaments)
  35. Beyond 150th on prior season’s FEC Points List, past champions, team tournament winners, and veteran members beyond 150th on FEC Points List
  36. Past Champion Members: if not otherwise eligible and if needed to fill the field, if two or more players are tied the player ranking highest on the PGA TOUR career money list has priority
  37. Special temporary members: If during the course of a PGA TOUR season a non-member wins an amount of points equal to the amount won in the preceding season by the 150th finisher in the FEC he will become a temporary member for the remainder of the season (see Viktor Hovland)
  38. Team tournament winners: If not otherwise eligible and needed to fill the field
  39. Veteran members: If not otherwise eligible and needed to fill the field (players who have made a minimum of 150 cuts) ties broken by order on career money list

It’s All So Clear Now

That’s just a touch of sarcasm. Goodness that was exhausting. I’m still confused, less than before but still confused. It feels like the subterfuge is on purpose. We tune in every week to watch 120+ guys play and most people have no idea how the field is made up nor do they care. You can always refer to this guide for PGA TOUR priority rankings. Just try not to get super dizzy.

Would love to hear feedback on this one!

The Doctor Is OUT…

Doc Mulligan

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