PGA Championship has 99 of top 100 in the field for Oak Hill, no Sergio Garcia

Captain Sergio Garcia looks on from the 18th fairway during the final round of LIV Golf Singapore at the Sentosa Golf Club on Sentosa Island in Singapore on Sunday, April 30, 2023. (Scott Taetsch/LIV Golf via AP)
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AP Golf Writer

The PGA Championship stuck to its mission of getting the strongest field of the four majors, announcing a field Wednesday that includes 99 of the top 100 in the world ranking no matter what tour they play.

Missing from the 155-player list is Sergio Garcia, the former Masters champion who had been eligible for every major dating to the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie.

Kerry Haigh, the chief championships officer for the PGA of America, had said in February that players from all tours would be considered to assemble a strong field, and he delivered a field that looks no different from previous years.

The PGA Championship starts May 18 at Oak Hill just outside Rochester, New York.

The field has 18 players from Saudi-funded LIV Golf — the same number from the 89-man field at the Masters last month.

That includes Phil Mickelson, who won the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island at age 50 to become the oldest major champion. He missed his title defense last year while taking time off after his inflammatory comments about both the Saudis and the PGA Tour.

The only player from the top 100 not in the field is Will Zalatoris, who is No. 9 in the world and out for the rest of the season after surgery on his lower back. Tiger Woods is not playing, either, because of ankle surgery last month that likely will keep him out of the next two majors.

LIV Golf still does not get Official World Golf Ranking points for its 48-man fields and 54-hole events while its application remains under review. A number of players who fell out of the top 100 were not invited — Cameron Tringale (103), Jason Kokrak (110), Sebastian Munoz (111) and Kevin Na (117).

Kokrak, Na and former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (163) were at the Masters from having been among the top 50 at the end of last year. Oosthuizen, a runner-up at Kiawah Island two years ago, had been eligible for every major dating to 2009.

Garcia’s history in the majors goes back another decade. The last time he was not eligible was for the U.S. Open in 1999 — he was 19 and in his second month as a pro. Garcia did not play the 2020 Masters held in November because he tested positive for the coronavirus. The Spaniard currently is No. 189 in the world.

The PGA of America does not say what constitutes a special invitation, though it offered one to Webb Simpson (No. 150 in the world ranking) and LIV player Paul Casey (131).

Casey tied for fourth at the PGA Championship in 2021 and did not return last year after missing four months with a back injury.

One spot in the field remains for the winner of this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson if not already eligible for the PGA Championship. The PGA typically uses its points list — a PGA Tour money ranking over the last 12 months — to fill spots in the field.

Next in line would be Alex Smalley, who was born in Rochester. Smalley is No. 102 in the world ranking and withdrew from the Byron Nelson earlier this week.

Justin Thomas is the defending champion. He rallied from seven shots behind last year at Southern Hills and defeated Zalatoris in a three-hole aggregate playoff. It was the second PGA title for Thomas.

Among other players receiving special invitations were Danish twins Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard, both among the top 115 of the world ranking. Rikuya Hoshino (No. 125) received an exemption. He finished second on the Japan Golf Tour money list last year.

The only major champions from the last 10 years who are not in the PGA Championship are Garcia (2017 Masters), Henrik Stenson (2016 British Open) and Bubba Watson (2014 Masters), all of them with LIV Golf.

The PGA of America gave an invitation to Francesco Molinari, whose five-year exemption from winning the 2018 British Open ran out last year. Molinari missed the 2020 PGA Championship because he did not play all summer while riding out the COVID-19 pandemic with his family in London. He now is No. 132 in the world.