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PGA Championship 2024: Xander Schauffele clearly didn't know this PGA rule (but it wound up not mattering)

May 19, 2024

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Following February's Super Bowl, some San Francisco 49ers admitted to not knowing the NFL's new overtime rules for playoff games. Although it likely had no affect on the outcome of the game as the Kansas City Chiefs won with a touchdown on the second possession of extra time, it became a popular piece of fodder for sports talk shows in the days after. Now three months after Super Bowl LIV, golf nearly saw a LIV-PGA Tour overtime of its own at the PGA Championship. And it sure sounds like one of the potential participants had no clue what the format would have been, either.

Xander Schauffele ended the tournament in regulation by rattling in a winning six-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. But in multiple interviews after, he indicated that he was unaware of the PGA Championship's playoff format.

"Yeah, I mean, I think I'd probably be a little bit less of a patient person if that putt didn't lip in, but I really didn't want to go into a playoff against Bryson," Schauffele told CBS' Amanda Balionis at the Wanamaker Trophy presentation. "I'm assuming we probably would have played 18. It would have been a lot of work. I just told myself, this is my opportunity, and just capture it."

He was assuming wrong. A little bit later, he expanded on those thoughts in his winning press conference.

Q. Why weren't you looking forward to a battle with Bryson in a playoff?

XANDER SCHAUFFELE: It's just 18. It's like a driver, pitching wedge for him, or like a 9-iron maybe? I don't even know. If he tomahawks a draw off the water it's literally going to be like a driver, 9-iron maybe—you can ask him—8-iron. It's just one of those things, if you run that stat in your head, who has the advantage, it's the guy who hits it further. If we're playing like a long par-3 or a short par-4 or something like that, maybe I'd feel like I have an edge, but I kind of calculate those things in my head and I knew it was important to take advantage of that.

So why was Schauffele mistaken about the situation? Well, the PGA Championship doesn't use a sudden-death playoff, but rather a three-hole aggregate-score format. So while Schauffele and DeChambeau would have played the par-5 18th again, they would have done so after playing the par-4 13th and the par-4 17th first.

That being said, if the players were still tied after those three holes, it would have moved to sudden-death using 18, 13, 17, and 18 on repeat until there was a winner. So playing the short par 5 could have become an even bigger factor.

Of course, Schauffele would have been informed of the format before teeing off in extra holes. And, of course, he was mostly just relieved to have finally won his first major.

To Schauffele's credit, the playoff formats for the four majors can be confused because they're all different. The Masters still uses sudden death, the U.S. Open uses a two-hole aggregate-score playoff, and the Open Championship uses a four-hole one.

The PGA Championship's three-holer was first used in 2000 when Tiger Woods held off Bob May at Valhalla. In total, there have been five PGAs decided this way, most recently when Justin Thomas beat Will Zalatoris at Southern Hills.

In any event, it didn't wind up mattering. Xander Schauffele is your 2024 PGA champ—no playoff necessary.