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PGA Tour Cut Fiasco

We are only two tournaments into the year and already the PGA Tour appears to have a rebellion on its hands. And the issue is about players making the so-called cut line, but not playing the weekend because of a numbers game the tour set as policy heading into the season.

Of course since the first tournament — the Mercedes — didn’t have a cut, so it wasn’t an issue. But it was at the Sony, where Canadian Jon Mills made the cut line, but wasn’t allowed to play on the weekend. He wasn’t the only one — John Daly, Angel Cabrera and Charles Howell also didn’t get the chance to tee it up on the weekend. This despite the fact it is not infrequent for a player to make the cut on the number and win the event on Sunday.

Daly sounded off about the matter, but let’s be frank, no one cares what John Daly thinks after he withdrew from half his tournaments last year. But Jim Furyk’s perspective is more reasoned and reasonable:

“I think it stinks,” Jim Furyk. “I’m not a big fan of it and I don’t understand why we’re doing it and I much like a hard number. The reason I say that is I think one week you could finish tied for 63rd and you could be playing the next week (and) you could finish tied for 63rd and you can’t, you’re not going to be playing. You don’t have an opportunity. And I just couldn’t disagree with that more.”

No one seems happy about the “MDF” designation — “made cut, did not finish,” even though they walked away with nearly $10K without playing the weekend.

ESPN explains the new rule:

Regular PGA Tour events, which typically start with fields of 132, 144 or 156 players, have long had a 36-hole cut with the top 70 players and ties advancing to the final two rounds.

But in November, in an effort to keep field sizes smaller, the PGA Tour Policy Board enacted a new rule: The top 70 and ties still make the cut. But if the cut exceeds 78 players, only the number nearest to 70 continues in the tournament.

In the case of the Sony, there were 87 players who finished at even-par 140 or better. The nearest number to 70 was 69 players at 1-under 139 or better. So 18 players were credited with a made cut and paid $9,699.

The rule was made to speed up play, but I’ve not seen a single report that said The Sony event played faster on the weekend because of it. And as opposed to imposing some ridiculous new rule, why doesn’t the tour tackle this in the most appropriate way — add strokes to those responsible for the slow play in the first place.

Still don’t think this rule is that strange? Well take into account the story of Kenneth Ferrie, who made the cut but had to withdraw on the weekend after getting food poisoning:

Ferrie, the Englishman best known for playing in the final group in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, had to withdraw Saturday because of food poisoning. He was at 4-under par and made the cut by three shots.

Under tour regulations, anyone who withdraws or is disqualified for any reason after making the cut is paid last place, unofficial prize money. Ferrie was given $8,798, but it will not be applied to the money list, and he received no FedEx Cup points.

What’s the Tour’s take on this? Well they can’t do anything cause it is in the rules now — and rules are rules.

“It’s always been that way,” PGA Tour tournament director Mark Russell said, pointing at the regulations. “I’m reading out of the book of laws. We’re bound by these regulations.”

Apparently a group of players have started a petition against the policy — so let’s see how long it lasts.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • During the broadcast the commentators made the comment that this was in fact a player led issue not a tour led issue. Supposedly the players’ committee dealt with this issue.

    Much like the FedEx Cup, it is just another example of the players failing to read the memo, until it affects them.

    That said, I agree, these guys play much too slow and are a terrible example to the golfing public.

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