“A non-playing cut I don't think is going to help the tour"

I interviewed Davis Love about a month ago for a story I'm working on and the chat started with him venting  his outrage over the PGA Tour's new (and incredibly lame) cut system. No longer a member of the policy board, Love essentially warned that it was a huge mistake.

Well the first week saw many players not aware of the rule (their fault!) but more importantly, big fan draws in John Daly and Angel Cabrera making the cut only to find themselves on the cutting room floor. And it's already generating plenty of discussion.

Based on the initial coverage we're seeing the beginning of a huge black eye for the current Player Advisory Council, the Policy Board and PGA Tour executive branch. And a quick remedy is apparently not possible.

Of course, I blame it all on the ball! But that's a post for another day.

First, the controversy. Ferd Lewis explains and issues the first negative view of the new cut rule:

It says that although the top 70 finishers — and ties — make the overall cut, should that number include more than 78 professionals, the field will be sliced to the nearest figure to 70 (in the case of Sony 69), plus amateurs.

The rule was announced Nov. 12, according to a PGA Tour spokesman, but somehow went unnoticed by some golfers. Or, perhaps, they thought it was a bad joke. It is, of course, but that hasn't kept it from being adopted and implemented, aimed at reducing weekend fields, speeding play and allowing more rhythm for championship play. In this case, it has certainly done that, effectively chopping nine twosomes from this tournament. But that's not all.

Doug Ferguson noted this from Daly in his Friday game story:

“I don't understand the rule. I think it's crazy. It's a stupid rule, I'm sorry,” Daly told the Golf Channel. “I grinded my butt off to shoot even. Then I find out on 18 you may not be playing. I just wish we would have known.”

Brandt Snedeker was another guy who didn't read the memo.

He finished at even-par 140, went into the scoring trailer and was told that 1 under likely would be the playing cut, and even par would make the cut. He didn't know the difference, and wasn't pleased when he found out after a call to a tour official in Florida.

“A non-playing cut I don't think is going to help the tour,” he said. “You lose that chance.”

That chance refers to players like Brad Faxon, Chris Couch and Jose Maria Olazabal, all of whom have made the cut on the number over the years and went on to win the tournament.
But with weekend fields reaching the upper 80s, leading to five-hour rounds starting on both tees, the Players Advisory Council recommended a change in the cut policy. The board, after twice tabling the proposal, approved it November.

GolfBrief.com posted a staff report with these additional player comments:

“I never knew that rule,” Vijay Singh said. “I don’t know why the ever made that rule. I mean it’s (70 and ties) has been around forever, there must be some Tour official that doesn’t like staying here late. We’re all here to make a living. And I think it’s a terrible rule.”

There's a great way to bond with the guys making your tee times, pairings and issuing you rulings!

“Makes no sense,” said Jeff Sluman, one of two Champions Tour players in the field, after missing the cut at 7-over 147. “We have had too many guys winning the tournament making the cut on the nose. I suggested a long time ago to play them all on Saturday and make the cut on Sunday if you had over 78. Make a 60 cut. So if a guy doesn’t play very good on Saturday, he probably doesn’t want to start at 7:15.”

Sluman believes that the rule will be reviewed this year and Steve Flesch, newly elected to the 15-member Player Advisory Council, agrees that it needs a second look, though nothing can be done until the 2009 season if a change is forthcoming.

“I think it stinks,” Jim Furyk said. “I’m not a big fan of it 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 63 and you could be playing and the next week you could finish tied for 63 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."