What Is The Masters Playoff Format?

We take a look at the Masters playoff format in the event of a tie after 72 holes

Adam Scott and Steve Williams celebrate his win at the 2013 Masters
Adam Scott won the 2013 Masters after a playoff against Angel Cabrerra
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The first men's Major of the year, The Masters, is quite unlike any other tournament. For example, it's the only one of the four big events to be played at the same venue, Augusta National. 

Among its other unique qualities is the need for the caddies to wear jumpsuits, the habit of referring to fans as "patrons" and the playoff format. So, what exactly happens if there is a tie at the top of the leaderboard after the regulation 72 holes? 

The Masters Playoff Format

Scottie Scheffler takes a tee shot on the 18th at Augusta National

The first playoff hole is the 18th, followed by the 10th

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Masters is the only one of the four men's Majors with a sudden-death playoff format, making it the same as the PGA Tour in that respect.

That means the first player to win a hole on his own is the champion. It is perhaps the rawest method of deciding the winner, as there's no coming back from it once a hole is won. That's unlike an aggregate playoff, which declares a winner based on a player's score over the entire playoff, which runs for a certain number of holes.

It makes sense that The Masters uses a sudden-death format, though, because its relatively early place in the calendar means consideration needs to be given to the fading light in Georgia, with sunset times around 8pm at that time of year.

The first playoff hole is the 18th and, should that not determine a winner, players then move to the 10th. This sequence is repeated until someone emerges victorious.

The holes chosen for the playoff are also practical, as the 18th and 10th at Augusta National run parallel to each another, which means the drama can unfold in a relatively small area of the property, as well as in front of the largest number of patrons.

When Was The Last Masters Playoff?

Sergio Garcia celebrates after winning The Masters in 2017

Sergio Garcia beat Justin Rose in a playoff at the 2017 edition of The Masters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Playoffs don't come around that often at The Masters, with only six since the turn of the century. 

The last time the tournament needed to be decided that way was in 2017, when Sergio Garcia defeated Justin Rose for his maiden Major. The pair had finished nine-under after a dramatic final day that saw the Spaniard recover from a poor start to force extra holes.

However, any hopes of an epic tussle in the playoff were dashed when Rose hit his drive deep into the trees on the 18th. The Englishman was forced to pitch out before making a bogey, while Garcia found the green in regulation and made a birdie to became the first Spaniard to win at Augusta since Jose Maria Olazabal 18 years earlier. 

It was Garcia's 19th Masters appearance and 74th Major, the most by any player before their first title.

Who Else Won In A Playoff At The Masters?

Tiger Woods celebrates winning the 2005 Masters after a playoff

Tiger Woods beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff in 2005

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One playoff that is often forgotten about is the 2005 Masters, when Tiger Woods needed a playoff to defeat Chris DiMarco. After Woods produced the iconic chip on the 16th that prompted Verne Lundquist's unforgettable "in your life" call, Woods bogeyed the final two holes to fall back into a tie. 

In the playoff, Woods holed a 15-foot birdie putt to win his fourth Green Jacket and ninth Major title. It was the second consecutive Major that DiMarco lost in extra holes following his defeat in the 2004 PGA Championship to Vijay Singh. 

Bubba Watson produced one of the best shots in Masters history during a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen in 2012. The pair parred the first extra hole, before Watson hit an errant tee shot into the pine straw right of the 10th. 

From 145 yards, Watson somehow hooked a 52-degree gap wedge some 50 yards around the trees that finished no more than 15 feet from the hole. Rickie Fowler famously said: "Bubba was in the wrong place at the right time." The rest is history. 

Bubba Watson prepares his second shot in the second playoff hole at the 2012 Masters

Bubba Watson played a memorable shot at the 2012 playoff as he claimed the title

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The following year, Adam Scott secured his first Major when he overcame Angel Cabrera on the second playoff hole. Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters, prompting compatriot Ian Baker-Finch to share an iconic line during the live coverage: "From Down Under to the top of the world."

The other playoff in the 21st century so far saw Mike Weir beat Len Mattiace on the first extra hole in 2003.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

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.