How the Field Qualified: 2021 Valspar Championship

Valspar champion Paul Casey and Innisbrook owner Sheila Johnson
Valspar champion Paul Casey and Innisbrook owner Sheila Johnson pose together with the champions trophy after the final round of the Valspar Championship on March 11, 2018, at Westin Innisbrook-Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The field at the 20th edition of the Valspar Championship will be headlined by world Nos. 1 and 2 in Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, respectively.

Fans may not know this, but world rankings do not punch a ticket to most regular PGA Tour events. For instance, Johnson and Thomas qualified for the Valspar by virtue of major victories – DJ at the 2016 U.S. Open and JT at the 2017 PGA Championship.

Co-starring alongside the two American superstars will be Paul Casey – the two-time defending champion of the Valspar. Many would also think the Englishman qualified by winning the Valspar – by owning the title as defending champ.

This would only be half true.

Yes, Casey qualified with his win(s) at the Valspar, but it was in the category of PGA Tour Winners (two-year exemptions). So he qualified just like Lanto Griffin did with his win at the 2019 Houston Open. Only past winners of the Valspar who haven’t won in the last three seasons can use the ‘Past Winner Exemption.’

For example, Adam Hadwin (2017) and Charl Schwartzel (2016) have not hoisted a trophy since their victories at Innisbrook (although Schawartzel has a chance to do so later today) so they get slotted in the ‘Past Winners exemption’ category.

Here’s how each of the 152 players in field qualified for the 2021 Valspar Championship:

Winner U.S. Open
Dustin Johnson (2016)
Gary Woodland (2019)
Remainder of season when you won, plus five full seasons after.

Winner PGA Championship
Justin Thomas (2017)
Jimmy Walker (2016)
Remainder of season when you won, plus five full seasons after.

Winner Masters Tournament
Patrick Reed (2018)
Danny Willett (2016)
Remainder of season when you won, plus five full seasons after.

Winner The Open Championship
Zach Johnson (2015)
Henrik Stenson (2016)
Remainder of season when you won, plus five full seasons after.
Johnson qualifies thru COVID extension – qualified in 2020 but tournament was canceled.

Winner WGC Event
Kevin Kisner (2019 Match Play)
Phil Mickelson (2018 Mexico)
Justin Rose (2018 China)
Bubba Watson (2018 Match Play)
WGCs: China, Mexico, Match Play, St Jude’s
Remainder of season when you won, plus three full seasons after.

Winners – Invitational
Jason Dufner (2017 Memorial)*
Tyrrell Hatton (2019 Arnold Palmer)
Max Homa (2021 Genesis)
Invitationals: Genesis Arnold Palmer, Memorial
Remainder of season when you won, plus three full seasons after.
Dufner qualifies thru COVID extension – qualified in 2020 but tournament was canceled.

Tournament Winners
Ryan Armour (2017-18 Sanderson)
Keegan Bradley (2018 BMW)
Cameron Champ (2019 Safeway)
Paul Casey (2018 Valspar)
Corey Conners (2019 Valero)
Austin Cook (2017-18 RSM)
Tyler Duncan (2019 RSM)
Brice Garnett (2018 Corales)
Brian Gay (2020 Bermuda)
Branden Grace (2021 Bermuda)
Lanto Griffin (2019 Houston)
Jim Herman (2019 Wyndham)
J.B. Holmes (2019 Genesis)
Viktor Hovland (2020 Puerto Rico)
Charles Howell III (2018 RSM)
Sungjae Im (2020 Honda)
Sung Kang (2019 Byron Nelson)
Michael Kim (2018 John Deere)
Patton Kizzire (2018 Sony)
Russell Knox (2016 HSBC, Travelers)
Satoshi Kodaira (2018 RBC)
Jason Kokrak (2020 CJ Cup)
Martin Laird (2020 Shriners)
Andrew Landry (2018 Valero)
Nate Lashley (2019 Rocket)
Adam Long (2019 Desert Classic)
Graeme McDowell (2019 Corales)
Troy Merritt (2018 Barbasol)
Keith Mitchell (2019 Honda)
Kevin Na (2019 Schwab)
Joaquin Niemann (2019 Greenbrier)
Carlos Ortiz (2020 Houston)
Ryan Palmer (2019 Zurich)
Pat Perez (2019 CIMB)
Scott Piercy (2018 Zurich)
J.T. Poston (2019 Wyndham)
Ted Potter, Jr. (2018 Pebble)
Ian Poulter (2018 Houston)
Andrew Putnam (2018 Barracuda)
Chez Reavie (2019 Travelers)
Brandt Snedeker (2018 Wyndham)
Hudson Swafford (2020 Corales)
Nick Taylor (2020 Pebble)
Martin Trainer (2019 Puerto Rico)
Kevin Tway (2018 Safeway)
Richy Werenski (2020 Barracuda)
Remainder of season when you won, plus two full seasons after.
Knox qualifies thru COVID extension – qualified in 2020 but tournament was canceled.

Career Money Exemption
K.J. Choi
Luke Donald
Hunter Mahan
Steve Stricker
Bo Van Pelt

Sponsors Exemptions
Nick Watney (1)
Rafa Cabrera Bello (2)
Camilo Villegas (2)
John Augenstein (3)
Rasmus Hojgaard (3)
Sam Horsfield (3)
Chase Koepka (3)
1. 2018-19 FEC / Korn Ferry Category
2. Not Otherwise Exempt Category
3. Unrestricted Category

PGA Section Champion
Rod Perry

Past Valspar Champions
Adam Hadwin (2017)
Charl Schwartzel (2016)

Top 125 Prior Season FEC
Scottie Scheffler
Mackenzie Hughes
Abraham Ancer
Kevin Streelman
Byeong Hun An
Mark Hubbard
Danny Lee
Alex Noren
Russell Henley
Talor Gooch
Louis Oosthuizen
Robby Shelton
Doc Redman
Denny McCarthy
Henrik Norlander
Charley Hoffman
Xinjun Zhang
Sepp Straka
Cameron Tringale
Cameron Davis
Vaughn Taylor
Patrick Rodgers
Brian Stuard
Emiliano Grillo
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
Scott Harrington
Matthew NeSmith
Ryan Moore
Sam Ryder
Adam Schenk
Wyndham Clark
Sam Burns
Scott Brown
Beau Hossler
Lucas Glover
Luke List
Scott Stallings
Rory Sabbatini
Tom Lewis
Bo Hoag
William Gordon*
Erik van Rooyen*
Top 125 in FedExCup Standings receive exemption into following season
* Top 125 (Nonmember)

Major Medical Extension
Chris Kirk
James Hahn
Kevin Chappell
Kevin Stadler
William McGirt
Sean O’Hair
Jamie Lovemark
Wesley Bryan
John Huh
Kelly Kraft
Jonas Blixt
D.A. Points

COVID Extension: Top 125 FEC/Top KFT
Peter Malnati
Brandon Hagy
Doug Ghim
Chase Seiffert
Anirban Lahiri
Kyle Stanley
Jhonattan Vegas
Cameron Percy
Rafael Campos
Michael Gligic
Kristoffer Ventura
Chesson Hadley
Kramer Hickok
Roger Sloan
Vincent Whaley
David Hearn
Joseph Bramlett
Rob Oppenheim
Hank Lebioda
Bronson Burgoon
Grayson Murray


Qualified for 2020 tournament but was canceled.


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