Have you ever wondered what is meant by “the cut” in golf? How do they determine the cut? And how many golfers make the cut? Going through qualifying school and getting your card to play on the pro tour is a tough assignment.
Then you need to qualify or be invited to play in one of the big championships or majors. After all that you then have to overcome “the cut”.
Why There Is A Cut?
Most tournaments are played over four 18-hole rounds and four days, starting on a Thursday. Typically, the tournament will start with around 154 players in the field and this number will be reduced after the second round. The question is WHY? The reason is that the allocated prize money will not stretch down to the last player.
The standard cut rule on the regular tour is to cut the field to the low 70 scores plus ties. This should result in reducing the field to about 78 players. If too many players have tied for the 70th place a second cut would take place after 54 holes, again based on the low 70 plus ties.
Thursday and Friday then are the “working” days and players tee off in groups of three according to a draw. The same three-ball will play together again the second day usually with tee-off times changed around. The Friday session will then end with 154 players and on Saturday, after the cut, the field is reduced to around 78 players.
Missing The Cut
The term “missed the cut” will refer to those players who failed to advance to the next round. Their tournament is over and they can go home with no reward, except the prestige of have appeared at that venue.
Those that do advance or “made the cut” will play the weekend and will then play in pairs ranked according to the current score. The pairings will again be adjusted for the final round on Sunday. Prize money for the tournament could be say $ 8m with the winners check around $1.5m and the player coming in last, at number 78, having a payday of $11.500.
This then is the main reason for having to “cut” the field, because the other players would not have earned anything and would cause crowding on congestion in the final two rounds. These days with sponsorships and television rights keeping the action confined to a smaller field also plays a part.
Different Rules In Different Tours
These are the standard rules on the regular tour but there are many exceptions as the cut rule does not fall under the control of the rules of golf. Each of the majors, the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship have their own cut rules.
The World Golf Championships (WGC) tournaments do not have cut rules, being match play there is no need as there are only winners and losers. The BMW Championship and the Tour Championship at the end of the season do not have cut rules. The BMW is restricted to 70 players and the Tour Championship to just 30 making a cut unnecessary.
Not making the cut then is a big deal, not only do you go home early without a paycheck, but you also don’t earn any points to keep your ranking and tour card. However, nobody is immune to the dreaded cut and it is not uncommon for top players to miss out. Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Ernie Els, even Tiger Woods have suffered under the cut rule.
What Does MDF Stand For?
When you see MC next to a player’s name on the leader board we know it means that the player missed the cut, but after 2008 MDF appeared. This acronym stands for “made the cut but did not finish”.
This happens when too many players tie on the low score and the second cut after 54 holes is applied. In recent times the PGA has again reviewed the cut rule from the low 70 to the low 65 plus ties in an attempt to eliminate the second cut.
This change has been received with mixed reactions from the players.
Ideally, tournament organizers want to see around 70 players on the final two days. Crowd attendance is higher on the weekend as well as TV viewership. Crowd control and management as well as the pace of play help to make television coverage better.
To answer the question, “how many golfers make the cut”, the answer is roughly 70, and not making the cut does not mean the end of your career. As previously mentioned even top players succumb to the cut, up till 2019 Tiger Woods has missed the cut on 20 occasions.
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.