Sports Outside the Beltway

New PGA Tour cut rule riles some players

Traditionally PGA tournaments are cut to the low 70 and ties after 36 holes. Last November a new rule was instituted and this weekend’s Sony Open saw it first take affect.

The government pays farmers not to grow crops and, now, the PGA Tour has begun to pay its players not to play?

Welcome to the start of the 2008 golf season where the first full-field event of the year, the Sony Open in Hawai’i, already has people shaking their heads and some golfers with smoke coming out of theirs.

Eighty-seven players made the 36-hole cut of even-par 140 after yesterday’s second round, but you’ll only see 69 of them when the third round unfolds today at Waialae Country Club.

So, if you are cheered to see John Daly, Angel Cabrera or John Huston made the cut, then rejoice. Just don’t expect to see them anywhere but the practice range today. It also probably wouldn’t be a good idea to ask them why unless you want an earful.

They were among the 18 players who all hit the cut on the nose at 140 but won’t be lifting a club in competition today. In the curious world of golf ’08, they made the cut, but they don’t get to play.

For this they can thank — though that is probably not the prevailing sentiment at the moment — the PGA Tour Policy Board for the change.

“I don’t understand the rule. I think it’s crazy,” Daly fumed to The Golf Channel after it was explained to him yesterday. “It’s a stupid rule, I’m sorry.”

Note- last weekend’s Tournament of Champions had no cut.

I agree with Daly, the rule is stupid. How many tournaments a year really see fields of 80 players or more. If a player makes the cut, they should play, if they don’t they shouldn’t get a dime. Then why didn’t the tour make it low 60′s and ties or low 65?

The main reason given for the change was to speed up play. Large weekend fields often result in five-hour or more rounds and or both the 1st and 10th tees needing to be used.

As to Daly and the other complaining players, they are to blame for not knowing the new rule. They were notified but didn’t pay attention.

At least one player took notice before yesterday.

But he(John Daly) probably doesn’t know Parker McLachlin, who read the memo in November and talked to policy board member Joe Ogilvie about it during the offseason. He knew exactly what was at stake when he made birdie on his final hole to finish at 1 under.

A player like Daly, who finished 10 shots behind 2nd round leader KJ Choi, would seem to have little chance of winning. True but such a two-round turnaround happened three times in the last 10-20 years. The most recent less than three years ago.

Indeed, history tells us there have been players like Brad Faxon at the 2005 Buick Open, who have made the cut by the skin of their teeth on Friday but who ended being handed winner’s paychecks on fairly tale Sundays. Not a lot of them, but enough to show that it is possible. Enough so that you have to mourn the opportunity that such drama has been yanked from them and lost to the fans here.

Expedience it is. Progress this isn’t.

The new rule makes tournament play more efficient, but at the loss of taking some of the excitement away. I think the later out weighs the former.

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