Policy likely to come up at tour board meeting

5/8/2007 - Golf

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- It looked as though 70 players would make the cut at the Wachovia Championship until Tripp Isenhour missed a 15-foot par putt on the final hole, dropping the cut to 3-over and allowing 15 players back into the tournament.

The third round barely finished because of a two-hour rain delay, and having 85 players didn't help.

Now, the PGA Tour is again looking at changing the longtime policy that the top 70 and ties make the cut. Several alternatives were discussed last week by the Player Advisory Council, and it will likely come up at the tour policy board meeting at the end of the month.

Among the options:

" Top 60 players and ties.
" Top 65 players and ties.
" The nearest number to 70 players.
" Top 70 and ties, but if the number goes over 78, revert to nearest to 70.
" Top 70 and ties make the cut on Friday, and another cut on Saturday for top 70 and ties.

Once the cut is made, there is typically separation at the bottom of the leaderboard. In a case such as Wachovia, 85 players made the cut, but a dozen or so would not have advanced to the final round.

One reason the cut policy is under review is to cope with pace of play. When a large number of players make the cut and bad weather is in the forecast, officials have little choice but to play in threesomes off both tees. That can really become a problem on the West Coast, where tournaments typically end at 3 p.m. for network television.

Tiger Woods said he would favor top 60 and ties, no exceptions.

"Play better," he said. "Either you play better or you don't."

But there are some ramifications.

Chris Couch (New Orleans) and Brad Faxon (Hartford) each made the cut on the number and went on to win in the last two years. One suggestion was top 60 and everyone within 10 shots of the lead, similar to what the U.S. Open does.

"I wouldn't want to see that because in the summer, when fields are 156, you're cutting out 100 guys," said Jeff Sluman, who favors a Saturday cut if there are more than 78 players.

Sluman lobbied for a change in the cut policy a dozen years ago when he was on the policy board. He now is on the PAC, and he described last week's meeting as "many thoughts and no consensus."

The next step is the May 28 policy board meeting, at which time the board could send it back to the PAC for a specific proposal. Whether anything changes for 2008 is uncertain. Any change to tour regulations requires two policy board meetings.