How Is the Cut Determined in Golf Tournaments?
Fields in golf tournaments are larger than the total number of places paid out. A cut is used to determine which golfers will make it to play into the final rounds on weekend and, in doing so, will qualify to receive a check from the tournament based on their place of finish.
The Opening Rounds
All players that qualify for or are given a spot in a tournament are permitted to play the work week rounds: 18 holes on Thursday and 18 holes on Friday--in the case of most 72 hole tournaments. These first round and second rounds are used to form rankings of the players by score headed into the weekend’s playoff rounds.
These rounds feature pre-assigned groups of three players, in most tournaments, and the players are not re-paired to reflect leaderboard position after day one.
The standard 36-hole cut line for a PGA Tour event is the score of the 65th lowest scoring professional. Any players that finish with that score or better are considered to have made the cut and continue play in the weekend rounds for prize money.
Should the higher cut line be used following 36 holes, and more than 78 players qualify for the next round, a second cut occurs after 54 holes. This cut uses the same procedures (top 70 and ties).
While this cut does not determine if the players receive money for their performance, it does determine which players are permitted to play the next, usually final, round.
Pre 2019-2020 Season: 10-Stroke Rule
Some events utilize a 10-stroke cut rule, under which any player within 10 strokes of the leader after two rounds is permitted to make the weekend, even if the player ranks worse than 65th. This is primarily used in major tournaments, where the course is very difficult and a player who goes out and shoots a score in the mid-60s can climb through the field quickly.
For example, The Masters tournament keeps the top 50 players and also follows the 10 stroke rule. However, starting in 2020, The Masters only kept the low 50 scores and ties.
Cut Lines of Major Golf Tournaments
The PGA of America and the Open Championship have the same cut rule: after 36 holes of play, the lowest 70 scores and ties will make the cut to compete in the third round and final round. The PGA of America does not use the 10-stroke rule.
The U.S. Open makes a cut at the lowest 60 players and ties, and The Masters in Augusta has a cut of the low 50 players and ties. The Masters eliminated its 10-stroke rule in 2020.
The PGA Championship cut was instituted when the tournament changed from a match-play to stroke-play format in 1958. Prior to 1958, however, they made a cut after the 36th hole and the 65th hole- also known as a double cut.
The Fedex Cup cuts the field to low 70 and ties after 36 holes, and the BMW Championship and Tour Championship do not make any cuts throughout the event.
The LPGA recently announced that it will institute a top 65-player and ties cut following 36-holes, while the Ryder Cup is a no-cut event because it is match play. The British Open is similar to several other events in that the top 70 and ties make it to weekend play following the opening two rounds.
Notable Golfers Career Cut Line Statistics
- Tiger Woods: 337/372
- Dustin Johnson: 251/307
- Jordan Spieth: 203/246
- Jon Rahm: 125/139
- Phil Mickelson: 533/658
- Rory McIlroy: 196/225
- Scottie Scheffler: 78/97