The Loop

Players Sound SOS About MDF

February 10, 2008

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.--Golf takes a backseat to no one in its love of acronyms. You can be DQed, DNSed and WDed. We've been MOIed and CORed. And, even though the season is still in its infancy, 37 innocent victims have already been MDFed (made cut, did not finish), their reputations left in tatters, except for D.J. Trahan, who got MDFed one week and won the next. But don't think the Cinderella story of one solitary player can blunt the ignominy of the masses.

M, D and F have become the scarlet letters of the PGA (there they go again) Tour. In truth, it sounds as if these poor souls have, in fact, done something just a little bit naughty, if not bordering on the morally reprehensible--and the tour wasn't supposed to test for that until July. If you prick them, do they not bleed? If you tickle them, do they not laugh?

Apparently not, because so many players are irate about MDF that the policy, in the proud and historic tradition of the FedEx Cup, is on the fast track to tweekdom at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles where it will likely get PACed by the Player Advisory Council.

In fact, the wicked 37 are guilty of nothing more egregious than not familiarizing themselves with something called Green Sheets, which apparently explained in language a ferret could understand that if too many of them didn't play badly enough in the first two rounds to miss the 36-hole cut on their own, the tour would courageously take matters into its own hands and lop off their hybrids, thus making network television safe for all mankind and allowing "American Gladiators," or some such thing, to begin glistening, grunting and growling on schedule.

Imagine the confusion this must have caused during a very difficult and somewhat embarrassing transition period. Like mongrel dogs, players began showing up unexpectedly at their homes Friday night. No doubt the living-room conversations went something like this: "Sit down, honey, I have something to tell you." Sniff, sniff. Sob. "I'm MDF."

"You're what?"

"MDF. It just happened. Honest, I never intended to stray to the short side. One thing led to another. It didn't mean anything to me, honey. Really, it didn't."

Of course, Rule 78 deep-sixed the disenfranchised 37 because if more than 78 players make the 36-hole cut then the number of players allowed to keep their courtesy cars for the weekend is reduced to the number closest to 60. Everyone else is dismissed with last-place money and the home version of the FedEx Cup point system as lovely parting gifts. It happened first in Hawaii and then, like flu, migrated to the mainland in San Diego. This was supposedly OK because few players ever made the cut on the number and went on to win. On the other hand, legions have made the cut on the number and gone low enough on the weekend to be able to finance a lock in the Panama Canal. So how come you get that chance one week and not the next?

"There are a lot of things we have to do for TV," says Arron Oberholser, "but this shouldn't be one of them."

The rule does bring to mind the proverbial camel--a horse designed by committee. It was meant to avoid threesomes and slow play. But there are other ways to get there. They could trim to 65 or institute an additional 54-hole cut. Of course, they could just play faster, too.

One thing is certain. This year someone will go into the record books for most Massively Dysfunctional Finishes, all-time.

--Jim Moriarty