With a crowded top of the leaderboard at the 2017 PGA Championship, it seems like a good time to go over the playoff rules.
Should two or more players finish 72 holes in a tie for the lead, they will compete in a three-hole aggregate playoff, meaning the winner will be determined by the total score on those three holes. If they’re still tied after that, they’ll move onto a hole-by-hole sudden death format to determine the champion of the year’s final major.
As if that’s not enough tension, the three playoff holes at Quail Hollow will be Nos. 16, 17 and 18. Known as the Green Mile, the dreaded stretch is one of the most difficult in all of golf and has played five times more difficult than the other 15 holes at Quail Hollow. If someone has to play that stretch at, say, even par, they’ll have certainly earned the win.
The three-hole playoff hasn’t always been the tiebreaker format at the PGA Championship. An 18-hole playoff was the original tiebreaker before the PGA moved to a sudden death format in 1977. It was then changed to the current three-hole aggregate system in 2000.
Since that last change, there have been four instances of a playoff. Tiger Woods beat Bob May by a stroke at Valhalla Golf Club in 2000, Vijay Singh went one-under in three holes to beat Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard at Whistling Straits in 2004, Martin Kaymer ousted Bubba Watson at the same location in 2010, and finally, Keegan Bradley knocked off Jason Dufner in Atlanta in 2011.
The PGA Championship is the only major to use a three-hole aggregate playoff format. The US Open still uses the 18-hole tiebreaker, while the Masters goes straight to sudden death, and the Open Championship uses a four-hole aggregate system.