This new Masters rule will make it harder to play the weekend
So you want to play in the Masters, huh? Good luck getting in.
Augusta National has long maintained its reputation as one of the world’s most exclusive tee times — a fact supported by just how difficult it is to earn an invitation to play in the Masters. As of Monday of Masters week, only 96 players remained in the field. Compare that with the U.S. Open, which welcomed a whopping 144 players to Winged Foot in September, and you can begin to understand why a Masters invitation is golf’s golden ticket.
But for as difficult as it is to earn your way into the field, it’s even harder to stay in the field. Each year, cut day at Augusta National sees roughly half the field pack their bags after two glorious days. And for this year’s November Masters, time constraints caused by dwindling sunlight hours have led Augusta National to implement a new rule that will allow even fewer golfers to reach the weekend.
Traditionally, the cutline at the Masters is calculated simply: the low 50 players and any player within 10 strokes of the leader make the cut. But this year, Augusta National has trimmed the list even further.
Now, only the low 50 players and ties will qualify for the weekend, the club announced Monday.
The decision is due in large part to scheduling. A November Masters, while preferable to no Masters at all, is far from a dream scenario for the green jackets. Augusta National now faces additional challenges brought about by the fall months, which are typically both wet and short on daylight. In order to ensure the completion of play each day, tournament officials are splitting tee times, adjusting television schedules and now, shifting the cutline.
While it remains to be seen just how many players will fall outside of the top 50 but within the 10-stroke range of the leader, a look back at previous Masters leaderboards gives us one clue into the changes we could see. Since the last cutline change in 2013, an average of 56 players have made the cut, and twice (including in 2019) the cutline was higher than 60 players.
It’s unlikely we’ll see 56 players qualify for the weekend rounds in 2020, and even more unlikely that 10 or more players tie for the 50th spot.
We’ve still got a few days till we learn the final tally of those affected by the rule change, but one shift is obvious. Golf’s biggest event just got a little bit smaller.