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Masters 2021: How the 36-hole cut is determined at Augusta National

April 09, 2021

Ben Walton

Unless Mother Nature makes an appearance Friday afternoon at Augusta National and delays the finish of the second round, at day’s end, tournament officials will make the 36-hole cut at this year’s Masters. Between now and then, exactly where the cut line will fall will become an increasingly talked about storyline, with several top-ranked players (Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson among them) in jeopardy of missing out on the weekend.

Starting a year ago at the November Masters, officials implemented new guidelines for determining the 36-hole cut. As was previously the case, all players inside the top 50 and any ties get to play the remaining two rounds. However, an old provision that any player within 10 strokes of the lead—the so-called “10-shot rule”—would also stick around was 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.”

Of course, if Justin Rose, who jumped out to a four-stroke lead after his opening-round 65 on Thursday, kept hold of his considerable lead on the field (a big if), the absence of the 10-shot rule might not have any impact at all given players inside those 10 shots would also be in the top 50.

Using scores from the first round, the cutline would be a two over par, with 21 players tied at T-30 on that number. Seven players were at three over par, but within 10 shots.

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 last November, the cutline for the tournament was at a record-low even-par 144. The record for the lowest cut line prior to that was one-over 145, which had happened six times since a cut first went into place at Augusta in 1957, most recently in 2011.

Here’s what the cut line has been for the last 10 Masters:

2020: 144 (E)
2019: 147 (+3)
2018: 149 (+8)
2017: 150 (+6)
2016: 150 (+6)
2015: 146 (+2)
2014: 148 (+4)
2013: 148 (+4)
2012: 149 (+5)
2011: 145 (+1)

The average cut at the Masters is 148.53. 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
25, Ben Crenshaw
25, Phil Mickelson
24, Tom Watson
23, Billy Casper
23, Arnold Palmer

23, Fred Couples (1983-2007)
23, Gary Player (1959-1982)
21, Tom Watson (1975-1995)
21, Tiger Woods (1997-2020)
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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