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PGA Championship 2020: How they determine the 36-hole cut at TPC Harding Park

August 07, 2020

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It won’t take too many tee shots to be struck on Friday at the 102nd PGA Championship before one of the overriding stories of the second round at TPC Harding Park will start to surface: What will be the 36-hole cutline be and which big-name players might not make it to the weekend?

Indeed, while the PGA of America has a tasty leader board after 18 holes, with eight former major champions (Tiger Woods included) sitting in the top 20, there are also some marquee players needing to play better on Friday. Among them: Rory McIlroy (E), Tommy Fleetwood (E), Jon Rahm (E), Justin Thomas (one over), Phil Mickelson (two over), Patrick Cantlay (three over), Jordan Spieth (three over) and Rickie Fowler (three over).

After 18 holes, the projected cut was one over. But exactly how is this determined? Here is the PGA Championship’s official cutline rules: “Following the first 36 holes of play, the field of 156 players will be reduced to the low 70 scores and ties. Those players will advance to complete the final two rounds.”

In other words, the cutline won’t be influenced directly by the play of first-round leaders Jason Day and Brendon Todd. Unlike at the Masters, the PGA does not use the 10-stroke rule to help determine who will be playing all 72 holes.

The PGA of America’s “cut rule” is the same used at the Open Championship. The U.S. Open makes a cut at the low 60 players and ties. The Masters has a cut at the low 50 players and ties, or anyone within 10 strokes over the 36-hole leader.

A year ago at Bethpage, the PGA Championship cut line fell at four-over 144 with 82 players advancing to the weekend. In 2018 at Bellerive, it was even-par 140 with 80 players advancing and In 2017, at Quail Hollow it was five-over 147 with 75 players playing all four rounds.

The PGA Championship instituted a cut when the tournament changed from a match-play to stroke-play format in 1958. Originally, however, the championship had a double cut, one after 36 holes and a second cut after 54 holes. The championship reverted back to a single 36-hole cut in 1965 and has had it ever since.

For history buffs, Raymond Floyd and Jack Nicklaus have made the most cuts—27—of any players in PGA Championship history. Floyd made 27 in 31 PGA starts while Nicklaus made 27 in 37 appearances.

Here’s the next best players in PGA history:
Tom Watson, 25 of 33
Hale Irwin, 24 of 26
Arnold Palmer, 24 of 37
Phil Mickelson, 24 of 27
Jay Haas, 23 of 28
Tom Kite, 23 of 28
Gary Player, 21 of 23

One of the bigger questions at the PGA is also whether any of the 20 club professionals competing will make the cut. Prior to 2019, only three club pros had made the weekend in the championship since 2011 (Brian Gaffney in 2015, Omar Uresti in 2017 and Ben Kern in 2018). However, last year at Bethpage, three club pros made the cut: Rob Labritz (T-60), Ryan Vermeer (T-80) and Marty Jertson (82nd).