What Is The PGA Championship Playoff Format?

How will the title be decided if there is a tie at this year's second Major of the year at Southern Hills?

The Wanamaker Trophy on the 13th hole at Southern Hills
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The second Major of the year takes place at Southern Hills, with anticipation building for weeks as to who will succeed Phil Mickelson as champion and get their hands on the famous Wanamaker Trophy

Competition is likely to be fierce in 2022, with Tiger Woods hoping to repeat his feat of 2007 and win the trophy at the same venue, while the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy will also be confident of adding to their Major wins. However, if two or more players are tied at the end of the 72 holes, it will require a playoff to separate them. But what does it entail?


All fours Majors have different playoff formats, with The Masters featuring a sudden-death playoff, the US Open having a two-hole aggregate playoff and the Open a four-hole aggregate. 

However, the PGA Championship employs a three-hole aggregate playoff. This means that every player who is tied at the top of the leaderboard after 72 holes will play holes 13, 17 and 18 in turn, with the lowest-scoring player after the three holes declared the winner. If there's still no outright winner after that, those remaining tied will participate in a sudden death playoff, with the players competing over the same holes again until a winner is found. 


Since its 2018 redesign by Gil Hanse, Southern Hills draws more on topography to feature undulated greens and contoured fairways, and those are in evidence on the three holes that will be used in the event of a decider. 

The 632-yard par 5 is the second-longest on the course. However, it offers a realistic chance of a birdie with a big drive on the slight dogleg left. It's possible to reach the green in two, but it is protected by sand and water. Laying up also offers a birdie possibility, though, and the chance of a good start in a playoff.

The 17th is the shortest par 4 on the course, but it's far from straightforward. A wayward tee shot risks landing in either in the trees or a creek, while putting is challenging thanks to the two-level elevated green. Finally, the par-4 18th is a dogleg right with a green sloping from back to front. 

All this means that if a playoff is required in 2022, the participants will not only need plenty of nerve to cope with the occasion, but the skill to navigate three demanding holes too.

The Wanamaker Trophy on the 17th hole at Southern Hills

(Image credit: Getty Images)


PGA Championship playoffs are relatively infrequent. In fact, there have been only 13 in the tournament since 1958 when it switched to the stroke play format. The last time one decided the recipient of the Wanamaker Trophy was in 2011, when Keegan Bradley edged out Jason Dufner in the three-hole aggregate playoff.

Bradley took advantage early on with a four-foot putt for birdie, while Dufner could only make par. Both players made the green on the par 3 second playoff hole, but Duffner three-putted, and Bradley held his nerve for par, giving him a two-shot lead going into the final hole. There, Duffner pulled a shot back, but it was too little, too late, giving Bradley the Wanamaker Trophy in his first Major start. 

Others who have won the PGA Championship via the playoff route include Tiger Woods in 2000, Vijay Singh in 2004 and Martin Kaymer in 2010. 

Keegan Bradley poses with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 2011 PGA Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)
Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.