Controversial Cut Policy Up in the Air

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Northern Trust OpenPACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- In what could amount to a compromise over the PGA TOUR's divisive cut policy, players have recommended that the policy be changed to allow for a 54-hole cut when the field gets too big.
 
A tour official said Wednesday that the 16-man Players Advisory Council, which met this week at Riviera Country Club, wants to return to the traditional 36-hole cut of the top 70 and ties. If that results in more than 78 players, another cut on Saturday to the top 70 and ties would help reduce the field for the final round.
 
The policy board will vote on the proposal at its Feb. 25 meeting at the Honda Classic in Florida. Because it relates to competition, the vote must get majority approval by four players on the nine-member board.
 
The field at PGA TOUR events has been cut to top 70 and ties since 1969. That was changed this year because of a dozen cases each year when as many as 92 players made the cut, forcing the final two rounds to be played in threesomes off both tees, leaving to rounds that lasted more than five hours. In one case, leaders had to wait on three groups late in the round.
 
But the change brought an outcry at the Sony Open, where 87 players made the cut. That meant 18 players received official money and FedExCup points, but they were not allowed to play on the weekend. Two weeks later at the Buick Invitational, 19 players made the cut and could not play on the weekend under a category known as MDF -- 'Made the cut, did not finish.'
 
One player posted a petition to change the rule at the Sony Open, and commissioner Tim Finchem met with PAC on Tuesday at the Northern Trust Open.
 
Of the 37 players who were victims of the new policy, it has not happened to the same player twice. Scott Sterling was an 'MDF' at the Sony Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, although Pebble Beach previous had a cut policy of top 60 and ties advancing to the final round because of the pro-am format.
 
If the board approves the proposal, the amended cut policy could become effective as early as the Florida swing.
 
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