Explaining how and when the cut line moves at the US Open
CMC PGA Tour U.S. Open

Explaining how and when the cut line moves at the US Open

A photo of golfer Scottie Scheffler AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 27: Scottie Scheffler of the United States plays his shot from the first tee in his finals match against Kevin Kisner of the United States on the final day of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 27, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

As the second round gets really going at the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2, all eyes turn to the 36-hole cut line. Who's going to make the cut? Who's going to miss the cut? Those questions are almost as important on a Friday at a major as who is in contention going into the weekend.

That's especially true in the US Open, as the tournament's 36-hole cut rule is tougher than the week-to-week cut rule on the PGA Tour. At the US Open, the USGA makes a cut to the top 60 players and ties though two completed rounds. Professionals and amateurs alike count toward that 60-and-ties figure.

However, given that the US Open has 156 players competing, all at different starting times (in a morning wave of 78 or an afternoon wave of 78) and starting holes (either Nos. 1 or 10), it is somewhat difficult to say with certainty what the final cut line will be when all players finish. Even the players themselves, including world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, aren't always sure of how the cut line may or may not move throughout a second round.

When looking at a golf leaderboard, most fans will tend to look toward the position where the cut happens to see what the cut line is at any given moment. Whoever is inside the top 60 and ties at that moment, somewhat logically, would make the cut -- but that's only true if play stops exactly at that moment. That's not how golf tournaments work, though. They don't suspend play with a large number of players on the course and declare that the cut line. All players have to finish the two rounds before the cut is made, and scores can change quickly, especially in a major championship.

So, if you're trying to figure out the cut line, you have to look at two things.

First, you can look at the current cut line. How many players are inside the top 60 and ties (or top 65 and ties at most PGA Tour events)? Where are all of them in their golf rounds? For example, if there are 64 players already in the clubhouse though two rounds at 3 over, then players who finish on 4 over and finished for two rounds are already not going to make the cut. Players who are currenty at 4 over and still playing have a chance to make the weekend.

Second, you have to look at how the course is playing statistically speaking and then try to project how the players that are still on the course are expected to do the rest of the way. If the course is playing tough -- and that's usually the case at a US Open -- then it's reasonable to expect players inside and outside the current cut line will make bogeys and potentially drop more shots against par. If there are enough of those golfers out on the course with enough holes left to be played, then there is a good chance that the current cut line and the projected cut line -- the one based on current and projected scores -- are going to be different by at least a shot or two.

The presenting bodies of majors, like the USGA for the US Open, often include the projected cut line in their online leaderboards. However, TV broadcasters tend to share the current cut line when they mention them in a telecast. It's important to know the difference so that as a golf fan, you have a better idea of what's actually happening in the tournament.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

Ryan talks about golf on various social platforms:

X or Twitter: https://twitter.com/ryanballengee
Facebook: https://facebook.com/ryanballengeegolf
Instagram: https://instagram.com/ryanballengee
YouTube: https://youtube.com/@ryanballengeegolf

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.