News & ToursFebruary 27, 2008

Norman joins Couples; Cut rule altered

As expected, the PGA Tour named Fred Couples captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team, but that was not the only news made by the tour Tuesday. Greg Norman will be Freddie's opposite number, assuming the captaincy of the International team for the tournament to be held at Harding Park in San Francisco in September, 2009. Couples and Norman replace Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, who have been the event's captains since 2003.

In other news, Rule 78 is no more. The PGA Tour Policy Board agreed to abandon immediately the controversial cut policy that reduced the weekend field to low 70 plus ties if more than 78 players made the cut. Under the new regulation, if more than 78 players make the cut at a regular PGA Tour event all will compete in the third round. There will be an additional cut after 54 holes to the low 70 players plus ties. Players missing this cut will receive prize money and FedEx Cup points in accordance with their finish.

The policy board agreed to revisit the rule after the Player Advisory Council suggested changes be made. The players were upset that they would not have a chance to improve their position in the standings despite making the cut. They cited players such as Brad Faxon and Jose Maria Olazabal as golfers who made the cut on the number, but played well enough on the weekend to win the tournament.

Zach Johnson, who was elected chairman of the PAC addressed the subject a week ago. "You're talking about the livelihood of the players, which is something the PAC is not taking lightly, the players are not taking lightly, and the board is not taking lightly," he said. "This issue not only encompasses cuts, money, etc., [but also] pace of play, retirement, a lot of issues."

Commissioner Tim Finchem said the tour would continue to monitor the idea of a smaller two-round cut to 65 players, plus ties.

The policy board also approved several other changes. The field at the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Classic, Nov. 6-9, has been reduced from 132 players to 128 and the field at the Memorial tournament has been increased from 105 players to 120. Also, the Fry's Electronics Open will move to The Institute, a San Jose, Calif., course in 2010. The Institute is owned by Fry's Electronics and the tournament will be renamed the Institute Championship. It will become an invitational event with a 120-player field.

Also, Bob Harig of our sister website, ESPN.com, reports that the order of the Florida Swing tournaments will switch in 2009. The Arnold Palmer Championship will get the prime final position on the four-event swing. The new order has the Honda Classic leading off, followed by the WGC-CA Championship at Doral, the PODS Championship and Palmer's event at Bay Hill.

--John Antonini

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