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PGA Tour Risks Angering Anti-LIV Fans by Removing Cuts at Designated Events

If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, Phil Mickelson and his money-grubbing mates at LIV Golf should be honored the PGA Tour is copying the start-up league by embracing exhibition golf over the real thing.

In case you missed it – and you probably did, since no matter how hard it tries to change the narrative, and boy is it trying, professional golf remains a niche sport – the tour is hoping to attract more eyeballs, and thus more money. To accomplish this, the PGA wants the best and most popular players to compete against each other longer and more often.

Makes sense, right? Most college football fans would rather watch Ohio State-Michigan than Purdue-Indiana. There’s a reason ESPN features Yankees-Red Sox over Reds-Brewers. Except the tour plans to achieve its goal by altering the very fabric that makes it distinctive from other sports, and from rival LIV. 

“We need to get the top guys together more often than we do,” said PGA Tour golfer Rory McIlroy.

How? By cutting the cut. 

The tour plan, to go into effect in 2024, includes changing certain larger-purse events to have smaller fields and no cuts.


A bit of hand-holding is in order, because non-golfers may not be clear what the cut entails. In an open four-round tournament, the field of 130-plus players is trimmed to the top 70 and ties after the second round. (Invitationals like the Memorial Tournament field 120 players). Make the cut, make money. Miss the cut, don’t get paid. Other sports offer guaranteed contracts. The tour sends players home without a paycheck if they don’t play well enough. Crazy, right? Tour players earn their keep by earning their way into the weekend. 

LIV is different, having done away with cuts, which makes it an easy target of PGA Tour players and fans who rightly conclude that an event without a cut becomes an exhibition in which the payout doubles as an appearance fee. Where is the incentive to compete at the highest level if you get paid regardless of performance?  

But if LIV operates as a free cash handout, what is the tour trending toward?

As Golf Digest contributor Dave Shedloski tweeted Thursday, “Me thinks comments from TOUR players about the future schedule of no-cut elevated events being better for fans and not a money grab sounds a lot like LIV golfers claiming they are growing the game. Bottom line: more money more money, more money.”


The Memorial Tournament has so far refused comment on a PGA Tour plan that would eliminate the cut for certain events.

The tour spins it differently, claiming changes are being made to “position the tour for continued growth.” Portions of the proposed new format released Wednesday include elevating eight designated events in 2024 that will have fields between 70 to 80 players and no cuts.

The Memorial, tagged as a designated event that sees its purse jump from $12 million to $20 million this June, may be exempt from the no-cut rule because it qualifies as an invitational. Rory McIlroy hinted as much Wednesday in Orlando, where he is playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“It’s TBD, but … you look at (the Palmer), you look at the Memorial, you look at Tiger’s (Genesis) event in L.A.; they’ve got a ton of history behind them, so is there an argument to say, because of that historical context, we try to keep a cut in those (invitational) events? Maybe.”

Memorial tournament director Dan Sullivan did not respond to a text message requesting the Dublin event’s stance on potential changes coming in 2024. 

McIlroy offered a two-fold justification for doing away with cuts at designated events outside of the majors, FedEx Cup playoffs and possibly the invitationals.   

“There’s been no-cut events since I’ve been a member of the tour and way beyond that as well,” he said. “Is there going to be a few more of them? Maybe. It keeps the stars there for four days. You ask Mastercard or whoever it is to pay $20 million for a golf event, they want to see the stars at the weekend. They want a guarantee the stars are there.

“At the end of the day, we’re selling a product to people. The more clarity they have on that product and knowing what they’re buying is really important.”

Along those lines, tour commissioner Jay Monahan said the main aim is to deliver a better product.

“How to showcase our top performers, while staying true to the meritocracy and legacy that define the tour,” Monahan said. “How to create a season of consequence that deepens and expands fan interest.”

What he didn’t say: how to stop tour players from jumping to LIV for more money.

That’s the real impetus for doing away with cuts. Monahan and McIlroy can blather on about golf being an entertainment business, but longtime golf fans will not be fooled. While it may be true that a minority actually care about cut-line TV drama on Friday – Tommy Fleetwood on the bubble gets gambler’s attention and that’s about it – a majority of fans feel cuts capture the essence of the sport: Play well or go home early. The tour removes them at its own risk. At the risk of becoming more like LIV.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch