Tiger Woods is just days into officially being a member of the PGA Tour policy board and already his influence is being felt.
Golfweek has learned that the Tour has reversed field and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Memorial hosted by Jack Nicklaus and the Genesis Invitational hosted by Tiger Woods will continue to have a cut. The rest of the limited-field designated events, which reportedly will be renamed “signature events,” will still have no cut as was first announced in March.
The PGA Tour is expected to officially release the 2024 schedule on Tuesday.
This decision has Tiger’s fingerprints all over it. When the plan to introduce limited-field, no-cut events was announced by the Tour in March, Rory McIlroy was quick to defend them at the Players Championship, and attempted to explain how they differed from LIV’s no-cut events.
“There’s precedent for no-cut events [on the PGA Tour],” McIlroy said. “But I think the – like cuts that you have to make to get into those events, so making the playoffs, getting into the top 50, so there’s certain things that you have to do to qualify for those events. I think that’s more than fair to warrant eight events a year that are guaranteeing the players four days.”
Patrick Cantlay, who is serving a term as a player director on the Tour’s policy board, has been a vocal supporter of the concept of no-cut events.
“With it being a limited field, I don’t think it makes sense to have a cut,” he said. “I think there’s real power in knowing that the best players are going to be there all four days no matter what.”
But Woods took a different stance. In April at the Masters, when asked how he felt about the majority of the Tour’s biggest events with the exception of the Players Championship becoming limited field (70-to-80 players) and without a cut, he said, “I certainly am pushing for my event to have a cut. I think that maybe the player-hosted events may have cuts. These are things that Jack and I are still in discussion with Jay and the board and the Tour and the rest of the guys. That still is in flux,” he said. “I still think that there needs to be a penalty for not playing well, and to have that — every event shouldn’t be always guaranteed 72 holes. I think that there should be a cut there. But we are trying to figure that out. And you know, what designated events those are going to be, how many are there going to be, that’s still ongoing. But that conversation is still being had.”
In May, Monahan said he had had conversations with Tiger about it and “they were in the middle of figuring it out.” His comments made it sound as if his mind was made up and that he had concluded it was better for the tournaments, sponsors and TV to be able to guarantee all the biggest names for four days, even if they were shooting a million.
By June, McIlroy was waffling. Had Tiger talked some sense into him?
Here’s what McIlroy said at the Memorial: “Could you create some sort of bracket where those tournaments, if the hosts really feel that a cut is important to them, to have a cut, then, you know, that, a 78-man field cut to 50 at the weekend, whatever it is, then I would certainly be OK with that.”
Nicklaus also was asked about whether he wanted a cut at his tournament and he expressed indifference, noting there were pros and cons to both sides.
“I think I’m going to leave that to people that are certainly a lot smarter than I am, which would be Jay and those guys,” he said.
During the Memorial, Andy Pazder, the Chief Tournaments & Competitions Officer at the PGA Tour, said a decision wasn’t set in stone.
“We are having a further conversation about that. I’m aware that certain hosts of designated events have voiced the viewpoint that they’d like to see a cut at their event or some of the designated events,” Pazder said. “We’ve announced that they would be no-cut events but that’s something that if there’s support for a change there, could be that it’s some of the designated events, all of the designated events or none of the designated events [have a cut], we’ll have a conversation around that.”
It’s been a hot-button topic for months with some players claiming designated events under this model will create two separate tours. Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm has proven to be one of the game’s deep thinkers and he weighed in with a thoughtful response, too, at the Memorial.
“I’ve gone back and forth on this issue. At first, I was an advocate for no cut and the more time has gone by I’ve become an advocate for a cut,” he said. “I think it’s a part of the game and I think it’s an important part of the game, as harsh as it may be to cut out maybe only 20 players. At the flip side, you know, it’s only 20 players that you have to beat to make the cut. So I think it’s a part of it. You earn your way into the weekend and then you earn that win. It’s a part I enjoy and I experienced recently at the PGA.
“I mean, that Friday had a different feel when I was fighting to make the cut. It’s a different type of pressure and you never know what playing good on a Friday to make the cut might ignite towards the weekend. So I think it’s a part of it. It’s a part of the history. If that went away, Tiger making 140-something cuts in a row wouldn’t have the same significance because that would never be broken again. So like I said, I pushed for the no cut and then as time has gone by I actually, I think we should have a cut.”
In the end, the cut lives – at least at three must-watch Tour events and you can bet your bottom dollar that the Tour’s newest board member was heard loud and clear by the commish.