Making the cut in a PGA Tour event will get a little harder in the 2019-’20 season.
The PGA Tour policy board recently approved changes that will reduce the number of players who advance to play the final 36 holes of a tournament from the top 70 and ties to the top 65 and ties after 36 holes. Additionally, the secondary 54-hole cut, used if there are 78 or more players who advance after the 36-hole cut, has been eliminated.
When you’re tinkering with how you determine the cut, you’re tinkering with players livelihoods. Naturally, not everyone was in favour of the decision.
“I was a big proponent of not doing it,” said Brandt Snedeker. “I didn’t think the system was broken.”
The secondary cut was started in 2008 when pace-of-play issues arose over the final two rounds at events where more than 78 players advanced. At times it proved to be an issue, particularly during the FedEx Cup Playoffs or the Players Championship. By scaling back to the top 65 and ties, the tour should mostly eliminate the number of times 78 or more players advance to the final two rounds.
Doing so, though, would also do away with the opportunity for a player who might not have otherwise made it to the weekend to come back and win.
In 2010, Carl Pettersson did just that. Instead of missing the cut at the RBC Canadian Open that year, he made it on the number, shot 60 in the third round and followed with a 67 to win on Sunday. Ironically, Pettersson had been opposed to the change in policy two years earlier.
“The reasoning of three times a year we play in threesomes on Saturday and have a [secondary cut] is not enough of an excuse to knock out five or six guys who could move their way into the top 10 or even win,” Snedeker said.
There is, of course, a counter to Snedeker’s point.
“It’s a capitalist sport,” said Paul Casey, a member of the tour’s Player Advisory Council. “You play well, you do well.
“I’ve been on both sides of it, and I still firmly believe you make your own success, so I’m a fan of it. As long as we’re not taking away opportunities to get into events, and I don’t think this is taking away earnings or opportunities for players. This is the right thing to do. We have to protect the product. We have too many three-balls and two-tee starts on the weekend.”
Another change approved by the board included reducing field sizes in “opposite-field” events (official PGA Tour tournaments played the same week as a Major championship or WGC event) from 132 to players to 120, with an exception that fields can be expanded to accommodate players from the Korn Ferry Tour if need be.