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masters playoff format

What is the Masters playoff format?

What happens if 72 holes isn’t enough to separate the players at the top of the leaderboard?

 

It’s quite common for two or more players to tie for the lead after 72 holes in a major, and Augusta National has averaged a Masters playoff every three years since the turn of the millennium. With that in mind, it’s worth knowing what Masters playoff format is. But first…

When was the last Masters playoff?

masters playoff format

The last Masters playoff was in 2017 between Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard forced extra holes with a fantastic back nine which included an eagle on the 15th hole.

The playoff was something of an anti-climax compared to the final round which was explosive with both players finishing on 9-under par for the tournament.

But Rose hit a tree with his drive on the 18th hole and didn’t have a shot into the green. The Englishman was forced to lay up and failed to make the up and down, missing his par putt which would have put the pressure on Garcia.

With two putts to win the Green Jacket, the Spaniard rolled in his birdie putt to win his maiden major at the 74th time of asking.

It might be the youngest of the four major championships but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any memorable Masters play-offs throughout the years.

How many times has the Masters gone to a playoff?

In total there have been 17 playoffs at the Masters since the tournament started in 1934.

Eleven of these have been sudden death, five by 18-hole playoffs, and one by a 36-hole playoff.

Let’s have a look at some of the most memorable Masters play-off results from Augusta National.

The Masters playoff history and results

Here is a list of the 17 Masters playoff results, with of our favourites highlighted…

1935: Gene Sarazen vs Craig Wood

The 1935 Masters is best remembered for the ‘shot heard around the world’, when Sarazen made an albatross on the par-5 15th which enabled him to get into the extra holes. The mammoth playoff was the first and only played over 36 holes, with both rounds taking place on the Monday. Sarazen took a four-shot lead into the afternoon, before going on to extend that by one and become the first golfer to claim the modern Grand Slam.

1942: Byron Nelson beat Ben Hogan

1954: Sam Snead beat Ben Hogan

1962: Arnold Palmer beat Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald

1966: Jack Nicklaus beat Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer

1970: Billy Casper beat Gene Littler

1979: Fuzzy Zoeller beat Ed Sneed and Tom Watson

1982: Craig Stadler beat Dan Pohl

1987: Larry Mize beat Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman

1989: Nick Faldo beat Scott Hoch

1990: Nick Faldo beat Raymond Floyd

2003: Mike Weir beat Len Mattiace

tiger woods 2005 masters chip

2005: Tiger Woods beat Chris DiMarco

“In your life have you seen anything like that?” Woods produced one of the most memorable shots in Masters lore when, on the 16th hole of the final round, he chipped in from a very difficult lie just off the green. However Woods bogeyed the last two holes to allow DiMarco back in and force a playoff. The 2005 Masters only lasted one extra hole though. DiMarco had forgotten that the playoff now started on the 18th instead of the 10th. He arrived all flustered, but still managed to make par. Unfortunately for him, Woods went one better.

2009: Angel Cabrera beat Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell

2012: Bubba Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen

Watson won his first Green Jacket in a playoff after producing the shot of the tournament. Earlier on in the final round, Oosthuizen had holed an albatross on the second hole. Both players had chances to win in regulation play, having hit the final green in regulation, but both putts just missed meaning they would head back to the 18th tee. Both parred the hole, so they headed to the 10th, where both players hit poor drivers. Oosthuizen laid up short of the green, before Watson unleashed a 140-yard wedge shot from the trees that hooked 90 degrees and dropped inside 10 feet. Oosthuizen failed to get up and down for par, meaning Watson could two-putt his way to victory.

2013: Adam Scott beat Angel Cabrera

2017: Sergio Garcia beat Justin Rose

What is the Masters playoff format?

The Masters playoff format has changed over the years with the first play-off in 1935 being played over 36 holes, this changed for the next five play-offs to an 18 hole play-off on the Monday.

From 1979 it was decided that the current format would be used instead of the old 18 hole playoff format. The last 18 hole playoff at Augusta was between Billy Casper and Gene Littler in 1970, Casper won by five strokes.

The current Masters playoff format is sudden death and it is the only major that uses the sudden death playoff format.

At Augusta the 18th and 10th holes for the playoff, alternating between the two until a player wins a hole and wins the tournament.

The 18th and 10th are chosen as the playoff holes because of their close proximity to each other, making it easy for fans to walk between should the players require to alternate between the two.

The old format used to be that players started on the 10th hole and played the back nine until a clear winner could be determined.

Now have your say

What is the most memorable Masters playoff for you? Let us know by leaving a comment on X.

Matthew Beedle

National Club Golfer and National Club Golfer magazine

Matthew has been playing golf since he was around 13 and took up the game at a local nine-hole municipal course with his friends before joining Pontefract & District Golf Club just over the hedge.

Still a member of Pontefract with a handicap of 3, he currently sits on the board of directors to help with digital and marketing initiatives in order to improve membership and visitor income.

Matthew graduated university with a First Class in Sports Journalism from Leeds Trinity University and has been working in the golf industry since graduating.

NCG’s social media & marketing manager, Matthew’s main job role is to increase website traffic to the National Club Golfer website via our email and social media channels as well as driving entries to grow our NCG Top 100s Tour events amongst other tasks.

Not one to change his equipment too often, Matthew currently plays the TaylorMade M2 driver which has lasted the test of time in his bag. Elsewhere, you’ll find him using the TaylorMade Stealth 2 three-wood with a Ping G425 Crossover 2-iron to aid his long game.

Through his 4-iron to Gap Wedge, Matthew uses the Ping i500 irons accompanied by Ping’s Glide 3.0 56-degree and 60-degree wedges.

Another club that has stood the test of time in his bag is a Nike Method Core MC-3i putter which has had to have the SuperStroke grip changed at least three times. Ball of choice is the Titleist ProV1.

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