Every week on the PGA Tour, the world's best golfers come together to battle each other for the trophy and big money. However, the PGA Tour field size each week varies, depending on a number of conditions. Some weeks, there are 156 players. Some weeks, there are 144. Sometimes a tournament has 120 players.
So, how does the PGA Tour determine its field size? We walk you through each scenario.
Most people think of events on the PGA Tour as being considered open tournaments. However, they're not that frequent these days. These events are available to any player who qualifies for the event through the PGA Tour qualifying criteria, including players who get through a Monday (sometimes weekend) qualifying tournament and those non-members who scored a top-10 finish in the prior open tournament. These fields, by policy, should be 156 players, provided it's possible to get through 36 holes with morning and afternoon waves of 78 players going off in threesomes off two starting holes.
If they cannot, then the field size is reduced to 144 players or fewer -- a choice made at the discretion of Tournament Director that week. For example, the Phoenix Open has a 132-player field because of daylight and timing issues. Usually the numbers come in increments of 12: 156, 144, 132.
Then there are invitation tournaments (note, they're not called "invitational" tournaments). These events have a starting field determined in conjunction by the PGA Tour and the tournament itself. These events include the Memorial Tournament, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Colonial and The National. These events typically have a starting field of 120 players these days, though that can change from time to time.
These tournaments also get to pick their specific criteria for setting their fields outside of the usual PGA Tour priority list. These events include the World Golf Championships, the four FedEx Cup playoff events and The Players Championship.
The field size for the three stroke-play World Golf Championships events is 78. The Players Championship has a 156-player field, but it's not open. The fields for the FedEx Cup playoff events go from 125 players down to 100, then 70, then 30. The Masters field is determined purely by invitation criteria set forth by Augusta National Golf Club. The remaining three majors have pre-determined field sizes of 156, but the U.S. Open and British Open Championship have a portion of the field set aside through open qualifying tournaments, while the PGA Championship is closed to amateur players.
Figuring out the PGA Tour field size is not as easy as it seems, and each tournament has a unique way in determining how players get into a field.