What Is The Players Championship Playoff Format?

With so many in contention, there could well be a playoff to decide The Players Championship, but how would it be structured?

Rickie Fowlers tees off at the famous island hole 17th at TPC Sawgrass on his way to winning The Players Championship in 2015
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Players Championship may have had to be extended by a day to accommodate the inclement Florida weather, but if two or more players finish tied atop the leaderboard, they will carry on to the tournament’s usual playoff format. 

Since 2014, The Players has used a three-hole aggregate over the final three holes, the par-5 16th, the famous ‘island hole’ par-3 17th and the daunting par-4 18th. If those at the top of the leaderboard still cannot be split, it reverts to sudden death playing just the 17th and 18th over and again until one player comes out on top. Before 2014 the playoff was all sudden death.

Of course the 17th and 18th are the two of the toughest holes at TPC Sawgrass and, especially in the weather this week, even the best players in the world have struggled, with tens of balls finding the water at both holes. Shane Lowry is one of the few players who has enjoyed the 17th this week, making a sensational hole-in-one there during his third round.

The last playoff at The Players Championship was in 2015, when Rickie Fowler beat Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia after a scorching finish to his final round, going 8-under-par over the last 10 holes to come from five shots back at the turn to force the extra holes. 

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Fowler and Kisner both birdied the 17th - as they just had in regulation - to see off Garcia, who couldn’t keep pace and bowed out after the 18th, before heading back to the 17th where Rickie won with yet another birdie. A playoff in 2022 looks a distinct possibility - as the final round got underway on Monday afternoon, 14 players were within three shots of leader Anirban Lahiri, who was 9-under-par.

Jeff Kimber
Jeff Kimber

Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!