There are usually approximately 150 golfers who earn invitations to play in the PGA tournament every year. However, usually less than half of those players are likely to be around for the final two rounds. When golfers begin to play in the first round, they know that the golfers with the 70 lowest scores over the first two rounds make the cut and can play in the third and fourth rounds. However, if there is a tie for that 70th position, all the players who are tied get to finish the last two rounds of the tournament.
There can be quite a bit of drama as the second round comes to a close. Let's say Player A is one of the early starters in the second round of the tournament and he finishes his second round even par. At the time the round closes, he is in 50th place, which would be good enough to allow him to make the cut. However, there are still 60 golfers left on the course who have to finish the round. As the hours go by, Player A has dropped to 69th place -- still good enough to make the cut. However, with one foursome left, he will not make the cut if two golfers beat his even par score. Player B birdies the 18th and goes to minus-1, dropping Player A to 70th. Player C has a short putt for par, and that will keep him at minus-1. Player A is in the process of packing his bags and getting ready to leave, but player C misses the four-footer, falls to even par and both player A and C make the cut because the low 70 and all those tied make the cut.
Benefits of making the cut
The pressure is off -- to a degree -- when you make the cut at a major tournament. It is a major feather in a golfer's cap and it also means he will get paid. A golfer who just makes the cut is not usually going to come back and win the tournament, but many golfers in that position come back and play much better in the third and fourth rounds to cash big checks and earn reputations that they can play in the clutch of important tournaments.