Extra holes

Players Championship: Here’s the playoff format used to settle a tie at TPC Sawgrass


Enrique Berardi

In celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Players Championship, it’s interesting to note that the tournament had needed extra holes to decide a champion just five times. And it hasn’t happened since 2015.

1981: Raymond Floyd def. Barry Jaeckel, Curtis Strange with par on first extra hole (Sawgrass CC)

1987: Sandy Lyle def. Jeff Sluman with par on third extra hole, No. 18

2008: Sergio Garcia def. Paul Goydos with par on first extra hole, No. 17,

2011: K.J. Choi def. David Toms with a par on first extra hole, No. 17,

2015: Rickie Fowler defeats Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner

Yet with a loaded leaderboard heading into the back nine on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass, the potential for a sixth playoff seems fairly high. Which is why it’s worth a minute to familiarize yourself with the format the PGA Tour uses for its flagship event, particularly considering its different than what’s used at any other regular PGA Tour event.

Indeed, if there a tie after 72 holes at the Players, all players will return to the course and play a three-hole aggregate playoff. And those three holes are Sawgrass’ trio of memorable finishing holes: the par-5 16th, par-3 17th and par-4 18th.

If there is still a tie after that, the playoff reverts to sudden death with all those remaining returning again to the 17th hole. Then they would play, No. 16, 17 and 18 in a rotation.

The three-hole format was put into place in 2014. It’s been used just the one time, back in 2015, when Garcia bowed out after the initial three holes, then Fowler made a birdie when returning to the 17th hole to outlast Kisner.

Needless to say, if a playoff is needed this year, with Kisner working in the TV booth for NBC during the Sunday broadcast, we’re going to learn a lot about what it’s like to play extra holes for the Players title.