The PGA Tour rolled out a new and quite controversial cut policy for the 2008 golf season. It is known by the acronym, MDF, which stands for made the cut, did not finish.
It seems that no one, with the exception of possibly the Tour higher echelon types and television executives, actually liked this policy. The new policy makes it possible for a player to make the cut but not be able to play on Saturday and Sunday. In fact at the Sony Open 87 players actually made the official cut, but 17 were not allowed to play the weekend. This is silly and when I first heard of it, I thought, the PGA Tour policy board is sure going to discuss this.
The 16 player Tour Advisory Board met this week and offered an alternative to the new, MDF policy. The board will reportedly seek that the players want to return to the traditional 36-hole cut of the top 70 and ties. This could possibly result in more than 78 players making the cut. In many instances, it will. In that case, a 54 hole cut would be placed into effect to further reduce the number to 70. At least the guy who goes low on Saturday, still has a fighting chance for Sunday.
One often wonders if the Tour works in unison with the players before rolling out these new rules. You would have to think that any player would be unhappy to get last place money for making the cut without an opportunity to move up higher for the weekend’s prize money. With the high quality field that exists week in and week out on the PGA Tour, one would also have to think that even a guy who struggled all week, grinded every round, could possibly shoot a career low that last day or two, thus allowing said player more Fed Ex Cup points and a bigger pay day. In fact, the great players on the PGA tour do this all too often. Every guy out there expects to go low.
So what was the impetus behind this new cut policy? Typically, the field at each PGA Tour event sets the cut at the top 70 scores including ties. This has been standard operating procedure since 1969 on tour. Wow. The previous policy was almost 40 years old. Part of the problem could be that there is much more parity in the field in this day and age, lots of great golf is being played, and therefore many more players are making the cut line than in the past. The cut policy was changed because of more than 70 players were making the cut, and at times upwards of 92 players were making the cut thus causing the final two rounds to be played in threesomes off both nines. This led to many rounds played lasting well past 5 hours. I am sure that increased slow play pains the tv execs and program scheduling as well.
Why not just make the cut to everyone within 10 shots of Tiger Woods after Friday’s round? Tiger doesn’t play every week, so that won’t work. What if Tiger or Phil gets MDF’ed? Well, it could happen. According to ESPN, Golf World’s Senior Editor John Antonini makes a valid point, “Imagine the outcry if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson make the cut on the number at the Buick Invitational but are among 18 players eliminated from playing the weekend. The ticket holders, television viewers, and most importantly, the tournament sponsors won’t be pleased.” Does the MDF policy cure slow play on tour? Did anyone watch how many practice swings JB Holmes took a few weeks ago? Ouch. I had time to leave the room and make popcorn and didn’t miss a shot. Most importantly, why not actually enforce slow play by adding penalty strokes or with monetary fines that hit the players in the pocketbook? Heck, subtract some Fed Ex points for slow play. Obviously, none of the players will like these options either, and who can blame them? Have a sudden death playoff on Friday afternoon to determine who gets in for a chance at the weekend prize. That would surely make for great television ratings. Really, the options are limitless here but everyone needs to be on board.
It will be interesting to see what comes of all this discussion. Stay tuned.