The PGA Championship is one of golf’s four major tournaments, along with the U.S. Open, the Masters and the British Open. The annual event, which is run by the PGA of America rather than the PGA Tour, is played on a variety of courses across the U.S. Through 2011, 71 courses in 25 states had played host to the PGA Championship. While most fans keep their eyes on the leaderboard as the players vie for the Wanamaker Trophy, for many players -- particularly the club pros who qualify each year -- the first goal is to make the cut and reach the final two rounds.
As with standard PGA Tour events, the PGA Championship permits the players with the 70 lowest scores, plus ties, to advance to the third round. Unlike other Tour events, however, there is no second cut if 78 or more players remain after the second round. Everyone who survives the second-round cut can finish the tournament.
PGA Championship History
The PGA Championship began as a match play tournament in 1916, and retained that format through 1957, so there were no cuts – just winners and losers. The tournament rotated between single and double cuts from 1958 through 1964 before settling on the current single-cut format in 1965.
Missing the Cut
Because it brings together golf’s greatest players, on some of the country’s most challenging courses, you can count on seeing some unusual names on the PGA Championship’s cut list each year. In 2011, for example, defending tournament champion Martin Kaymer missed the cut, as did Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.
Making the Cut
A maximum of 156 players tee off in the PGA Championship each year, with roughly half making the cut. In 2011, for example, 75 players made the cut by shooting no worse than 144, which was 4 over par on The Highlands course of the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia.
While players on the cusp of missing the cut rarely go on to win a professional tournament, let alone a major championship, reaching the third round is still significant. There’s the pride that comes with simply making the cut. Also, players missing the cut don’t earn prize money. At the 2011 PGA Championship, for example, making the cut guaranteed golfers a minimum payout of $14,550. Among the players who tied for 70th place after two rounds in 2011, Hunter Mahan stepped up his game in the final two rounds and finished tied for 19th place, earning $81,214.28. Had he taken one more stroke during the first two rounds he would have received nothing.