US Open Cut Rule: How Many Golfers Make the Cut?

Plus Tournament Records Relating to the US Open Cut

US Open cut rule last changed in 2012
The current US Open cut rule went into effect with the 2012 tournament. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The cut rule at the U.S. Open golf tournament is this:

  • There is one cut of the field, and it takes place following completion of the second round (after 36 holes, in other words).
  • All golfers who are inside the Top 60 (including those tied for 60th place) at that point make the cut and continue playing the final two rounds.
  • Those golfers outside the Top 60 places following 36 holes are cut from the field and do not play the third and fourth rounds.

The U.S. Open cut line, therefore, is the score that gets a golfer into 60th place following 36 holes, whether that is even-par, 2-over or 12-over.

(The U.S. Open cut is similar to those in use at the other three major championship; compare to the Masters cut rule, British Open cut rule and PGA Championship cut rule.)

How the US Open Cut Rule Has Changed

The current cut rule (all golfers in the top 60 including ties make the cut; all outside of the top 60 including ties are cut from the field and fail to advance to the final two rounds of play) went into effect beginning in 2012. So the current cut rule is the result of a recent update by the USGA, the organization that stages the tournament.

For many years prior to the 2012 revision, the U.S. Open cut rule included the commonly used "and all golfers within 10 strokes of the lead" provision. That provision meant that if a golfer was outside the Top 60—say, in 68th place—but was within 10 strokes of the leader's score after 36 holes, he still made the cut. However, that 10-strokes rule was eliminated beginning in 2012.

The U.S. Open first used a 36-hole cut in 1904. In the years between then and the current rule, there were minor changes every so often—typically adjustments to the number of golfers making the cut. The last change was the one in 2012, when the 10-stroke provision was eliminated.

Cut Records at the US Open

Tournament records relating to the U.S. Open cut rule are kept by the USGA. Here are a few of the more interesting items:

  • Youngest Golfer to Make a U.S. Open Cut: This record belongs to Beau Hossler, who made the cut,  and finished tied for 29th, at the 2012 tournament. He was 17 years, 3 months old at the time. (Note: This record applies to the post-World War II era in tournament history.)
  • Oldest Golfer to Make a U.S. Open Cut: Sam Snead set this record in 1973, when he made the cut at age 61 and finished tied for 29th place. Tom Watson is the only other 60-year-old to make a U.S. Open, which he did in 2010.
  • Highest 36-Hole Cut for the Tournament: The highest score for the cut line in a U.S. Open in the post-WWII era is 155 at the 1955 tournament. Golfers that year who shot 155 (15-over par at Olympic Club, the host site) survived to play the final two rounds.
  • Lowest 36-Hole Cut for the Tournament: The lowest 36-hole cut ever in a US Open is 143. Golfers who scored 143 (3-over par that year at Olympia Fields) in the 2003 U.S. Open got to play the final two rounds. That obviously means there has never been an under-par, or even-par, cut line in a U.S. Open.
  • Most Golfers Making the Cut in a U.S. Open: The highest number of golfers to make the cut in a U.S. Open is 108. That's how many golfers survived the cut in 1996 at Oakland Hills Country Club. (The possibility of such a large number of golfers making the cut is the primary reason the USGA changed the cut rule in 2012 to eliminate the within-10-strokes-of-the-leader provision).