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PGA Championship field 2016: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth lead qualifiers at Baltusrol

Henrik Stenson won The Open just nine days ago! But we're back for the season's final major, which has the strongest field of them all.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Championship has its detractors and those who like to poke that it's the fourth major. That rep may have been deserved in a different era, when the championship wandered off to random venues and all across the calendar. But not now, and one thing that is inarguable is the depth of its field. It is the strongest of the four majors.

The PGA of America does not adhere to some rigid set of exemptions passed down through history. It sets up a method of qualification and exemption that will deliver, year in and year out, an invitation for at least the top 100 players in the world. The Masters starts to panic if its field inches up near 100 players. The other two "opens" have the same size 156-man field, but large swaths are reserved for the "open" qualifiers, who are invariably longshots and players from deep down the world rankings, if ranked at all.

The PGA of America sets aside 20 spots for its members, the club and teaching pros, who also have little shot at contending. But after that, it's pretty flexible for them to invite the best in the world. There are no amateurs, no open qualifiers. It's the best of the best and as deep as it gets in major championship golf.

Here's your field for the 2016 PGA Championship. There are 12 methods of exemption and each player is listed under the first method set out by the PGA of America -- e.g. Rory McIlroy could fall under three different categories of qualification, but is listed here under the first way according to the PGA's order.

Past PGA Championship winners

Just like at the Masters, if you win the PGA, you get a lifetime invitation. Now, that has its limits and fortunately for the PGA, Don January is not still trying to roll it out there even though he technically could given the rules. There are 24 former champions who are not really competing anymore and opted not to tee it up. Then there's Tiger Woods and Davis Love III, who are still competing, but injured and will not use their exemption. But John Daly, Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem and the whole crew are back at Baltusrol.

Rich Beem
Keegan Bradley
John Daly
Jason Day
Jason Dufner
Padraig Harrington
Martin Kaymer
Rory McIlroy
Shaun Micheel
Phil Mickelson
Vijay Singh
David Toms
Y.E. Yang

Winners of other three majors from the past five years

This is the standard exemption at every single major championship. If you win a major, it triggers a five-year exemption to the other three. It's an easy one to remember but also usually yields world-class pros who would already be in the field in any number of ways. Ernie Els is the only player below who relied on only that major win elsewhere to get his spot this week.

U.S. Open
Dustin Johnson
Justin Rose
Webb Simpson
Jordan Spieth
Masters
Adam Scott
Bubba Watson
Danny Willett
British Open
Ernie Els
Zach Johnson
Henrik Stenson

Reigning Senior PGA Championship winner

You have to keep the seniors involved. This is also a regular exemption at the other majors. The winner of the Senior U.S. Open or the Senior Open get in those fields too. Our old friend Rocco earned the spot this year based on his May win at Harbor Shores.

Rocco Mediate

Top 15 (including ties) from 2015 PGA Championship

If you play well, you get an invite back the next year. This is another common exemption at the other majors and one that locks up a spot for different players who may have to grind in the intervening year. But at least you know the whole time you have that spot in the season's final major based on your work the previous year. Coetzee, Henley, and Lahiri are in the field this week solely based on their finish last year at Whistling Straits.

George Coetzee
Tony Finau
Branden Grace
Russell Henley
Brooks Koepka
Matt Kuchar
Anirban Lahiri
David Lingmerth
Brandt Snedeker
Brendan Steele
Robert Streb

Top 20 from PGA Professional National Championship

This is the one spot where there's a bit of a drop off in that "deepest field" claim. But it's a tradition that's enjoyable and worth maintaining. The PGA puts this event on and it wants to give its members the spotlight. None of these club pros have a chance to win and making the cut is usually the goal among this set. You always get a few cool stories from this group, such as Wyatt Worthington, just the second African-American club pro to qualify and doing so 15 years after taking a lesson from Tiger Woods during a First Tee event.

Rich Berberian, Jr.
Michael Block
Mark Brown
Matt Dobyns
Brian Gaffney
Ryan Helminen
Johan Kok
Rob Labritz
Brad Lardon
Mitch Lowe
David Muttitt
Brad Ott
Rod Perry
Ben Polland
Rick Schuller
Tommy Sharp
Josh Speight
Joe Summerhays
Omar Uresti
Wyatt Worthington II

Top 70 from PGA Championship points list

Here's where the PGA really beefs up its field. They have their own points list, which is a pretty simple measurement of money made on the PGA Tour over the last 12 months.

Aaron Baddeley
Daniel Berger
Jason Bohn
Paul Casey
Roberto Castro
Kevin Chappell
Jon Curran
Harris English
Rickie Fowler
Jim Furyk
Sergio García
Fabián Gómez
Emiliano Grillo
Bill Haas
James Hahn
Jim Herman
Charley Hoffman
J. B. Holmes
Billy Hurley III
Smylie Kaufman
Kim Si-woo
Chris Kirk
Kevin Kisner
Patton Kizzire
Colt Knost
Russell Knox
Danny Lee
Jamie Lovemark
Shane Lowry
Hideki Matsuyama
Graeme McDowell
William McGirt
Bryce Molder
Ryan Moore
Kevin Na
Louis Oosthuizen
Ryan Palmer
Scott Piercy
Patrick Reed
Kyle Reifers
Charl Schwartzel
Kevin Streelman
Brian Stuard
Daniel Summerhays
Vaughn Taylor
Justin Thomas
Jimmy Walker
Gary Woodland

2014 Ryder Cup participants (must be ranked in top 100)

This is the PGA of America's biggest event, but their other huge moneymaker is the Ryder Cup. They put that on in conjunction with the European Tour, and so this exemption is a nod to that other event, provided you stay inside that top-100 threshold (sorry Hunter Mahan, Stephen Gallacher, and Thomas Bjorn).

Jamie Donaldson
Victor Dubuisson
Lee Westwood

PGA Tour event winners from past 12 months

If you've won a PGA Tour event, yet still somehow aren't in that top-70 money list from above, you get a spot. Jhonny Vegas was the last player to get into the field with his win on Sunday at the RBC Canadian Open.

Greg Chalmers
Peter Malnati
Jhonattan Vegas

Alternates just outside top 70 on PGA points list

The PGA then dips just below that top 70 in money earners from the last year to get the field to 156 players, keeping it full of the touring pros who have been the best in the world over the last 12 months.

Zac Blair
Jonas Blixt
Billy Horschel
Freddie Jacobson
Jason Kokrak
Steve Stricker
Cameron Tringale
Harold Varner III

Special exemptions granted by PGA of America

I mentioned the "flexibility" that the PGA maintains with its exemptions, and here's the biggest indicator of that. They dole out these "special exemptions" which are rare in the other more rigidly defined majors fields. This is primarily a way to invite all the non-PGA Tour members who aren't playing in the Stateside circuit and earning money for that aforementioned "points lists." It's an easy way to ensure you get an invite out to the full top 100 in the world rankings. So if you're not a regular on the U.S.-based PGA Tour, but play your way inside the top 100, you know you're safe.

Byeong-Hun An
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Gregory Bourdy
Kristoffer Broberg
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
K.J. Choi
Darren Clarke
Nicolas Colsaerts
Luke Donald
Bradley Dredge
Ross Fisher
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Marcus Fraser
Tyrrell Hatton
Scott Hend
Yuta Ikeda
Thongchai Jaidee
Andrew Johnston
Matt Jones
Rikard Karlberg
K.T. Kim
Soren Kjeldsen
Lee Soo-min
Marc Leishman
Joost Luiten
Troy Merritt
Francesco Molinari
James Morrison
Alexander Noren
Thorbjorn Olesen
Thomas Pieters
John Senden
Song Young-han
Brandon Stone
Andy Sullivan
Hideto Tanihara
Wang Jeung-hun
Bernd Wiesberger
Chris Wood