Going home early?

Masters 2023: How the 36-hole cut is determined at Augusta National

Masters 2022

Ben Walton

It’s the goal of everybody in the field at the Masters, whether you’re World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler or 65-year-old past champion Sandy Lyle, the oldest participant this week. Qualifying to play in the year’s first men’s major is incredible, but the tournament is a lot more memorable (not to mention lucrative) if you can make the 36-hole cut and play on the weekend at Augusta National. And after the opening round on Thursday, there are a handful of top-ranked players who will be sweating this out.

Starting Friday at Augusta, former major winners Sergio Garcia (74), Tiger Woods (74), Bryson DeChambeau (74) and Danny Willett (75), were all in jeopardy of missing out playing all 72 holes of the tournament. Each was outside the top 50 after the opening round, which is the magic number at the Masters.

Starting in 2020, tournament officials implemented new guidelines for determining the 36-hole cut. As had previously been the case, all players inside the top 50 (and any players tied) get to play the entirety of the tournament. However, an old provision that let any player within 10 strokes of the lead—the so-called “10-shot rule”—would also stick around was been eliminated.

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley offered two reasons behind the change, the first being that it created a “reliable way” to predict the weekend field.

“But the other thing is we look back at the statistics, and the last few years, or the last several years, I think we’ve only had two players who have been in contention who made the cut only because of the 10-shot rule,” Ridley said. “While certainly it can happen, it just doesn’t. It’s not relevant that often, and we thought this was a way to sort of tighten things up and have a more predictable field size for the weekend.”

Indeed, using scores from the first round, the cutline would be a one over par, with nine players tied at T-45 on that number and 53 of the 88 players advancing. But given the bunched leader board, with Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm leading at seven-under 65, there were 72 players within 10 strokes. Ridley’s concern about a “predictable” field size indeed seemed understandable given the current circumstances.

What will this year’s Masters 36-hole shake out to be? Well we know it will happen later than planned originally as the second round was suspended due to bad weather on Friday and resumed on Saturday morning. While colder temperatures and rain are forcasted for Saturday mornign, it would appear the cutline will fall at two-over 146.

Arguably the biggest person to watch for regarding the cutline is Tiger Woods. Coming into this year’s Masters he’s made the cut in 23 of his 24 Augusta starts, including his last 22 straight. If he does make the cut this year, he will match Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples for the all-time record of most consecutive cuts made at the Masters. Considering Tiger already holds 36 Masters records, this would be a fun 37th for him to grab.

Masters 2023

J.D. Cuban

Augusta National’s decision to do away with the 10-cut rule brought it in line with the other three men’s major championships in terms of how they determine their cuts. At the U.S. Open, the low 60 players and ties play all four rounds. At the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, it’s the low 70 and ties.

With the soft conditions at Augusta in November 2020, the cutline for the tournament was at a record-low even-par 144. Last April, it returned to its more traditional over-par range. Here’s what the cut line has been for the last 10 Masters:

2022: 147 (+4)
147 (+3)
144 (E)
2019: 147 (+3)
2018: 149 (+8)
2017: 150 (+6)
2016: 150 (+6)
2015: 146 (+2)
2014: 148 (+4)
2013: 148 (+4)

The average cut at the Masters is 148.4. The highest cut was 154 (+10) in 1982.

For history buffs, here are some stats related to the cut at the Masters:

37, Jack Nicklaus
30, Gary Player
30, Fred Couples
27, Raymond Floyd
27, Bernhard Langer
26, Phil Mickelson
25, Ben Crenshaw
24, Tom Watson
23, Billy Casper
23, Arnold Palmer
23, Tiger Woods

23, Fred Couples (1983-2007)
23, Gary Player (1959-1982)
22, Tiger Woods (1997-2020)
21, Tom Watson (1975-1995)
19, Bernhard Langer (1984-2002)
19, Gene Littler (1961-1980)
18, Billy Casper (1960-1977)
16, Phil Mickelson (1998-2013)
15, Bruce Devlin (1964-1981)
15, Jack Nicklaus (1968-1982)
13, Ben Crenshaw (1980-1992)
13, Nick Faldo (1979-1996)
13, Raymond Floyd (1973-1985)
13, Corey Pavin (1985-1998)
13, Justin Rose (2003-2018)

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