An old-school Sony Open and questions about 36-hole cuts

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HONOLULU (TBEN) — No two tournaments held in the same state in consecutive weeks have as little in common as Kapalua on Maui and the Sony Open on Oahu.

One is an elite field of 39 players, the other a full field of 144. The prize pool this week is $7.9 million, compared to $15 million last week. The Plantation Course at Kapalua is built on a small mountain where players must board a van twice to reach the next tee. The other is a flat walk along the ocean and royal palms.

“I think guys who play Kapalua also enjoy coming here with an easier walk around the golf course,” said Adam Scott, one of 19 players from Kapalua playing the Sony Open. “It feels like a quieter week than climbing that mountain there.”

A big difference – and an important point for the future of the PGA Tour – is that about half of the field will go home on Friday.

Austerity has been an integral part of the meritocracy that allows golf for decades. There was a time when going to the weekend was one thing; players had to finish in the top 25 or so to get paid.

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The question is what the PGA Tour will look like in the future. This year is all about designated events and $20 million purses, a response to Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf. The work in progress is 2024 and beyond, and one topic is limited fields for the elite players and whether cuts should be made.

LIV Golf is only 54 holes with no cut, and it’s one of the reasons the anti-LIV crowd mocks the rival league as little more than an exhibition.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said last week, “I’ve always felt that a cut was important to the sport.”

For example, Scott said he can argue for both sides and it depends on the ultimate goal for the PGA Tour’s league structure and whether a cut is needed.

“That is difficult in a membership organization. There are hundreds of opinions floating around. You won’t please everyone,” Scott said. “We have to decide what we want to be.”

Referring to a Tiger Woods comment about preferring “pure competition”, Scott said he’s on that side of the fence.

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Pure competition?

“I think he means a cut and more traditional wave,” Scott said. “That’s fine. But then you have to structure a lot of things around that and walk that path. I think a compromise to please everyone is not going to be the best answer.”

One of the records considered unassailable is that Woods made 142 consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour from February 1998 through May 2005. .

Woods also won 18 golf world championships, which had a limited number of golf courses from around the world and no 36-hole cut.

Now consider the breakdown.

Overall, Woods had a PGA Tour winning percentage of 17%, an amazing percentage for his time. He won 40% of the World Golf Championships he played, 21% of the regular PGA Tour events (including 23 no cut), and 17% of the majors he played.

Overall, he won 34% of no-cut events – WGCs, Tour Championship, Kapalua. Were they harder or easier to win?

“It’s hard to argue about the quality of the field,” Scott said.

Jordan Spieth also sees both sides of the equation. He is actively involved in discussions about what the PGA Tour will look like in the future.

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Spieth tries to balance his schedule and chose the Sony Open over the Farmers Insurance Open. He likes both events, but said “I can’t figure out how to make the January cut” in Torrey Pines.

Spieth had one eye on fans who wanted to come and watch their favorite players and was sure the stars would be there all four days.

“But at the same time, the professional golf we’ve been playing for all this time — 80% of the tournaments I’ve played in, maybe more — has had cutbacks, and you have to play well,” he said.

“Of course, the conversation with LIV … we should do what’s best for our tour and forget about the consequences and any reaction that would cause elsewhere.”

For now, the goal for Spieth, defending champion Hideki Matsuyama and everyone else is to go to the weekend in Hawaii and still have work to do.

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