PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Craig Perks knows the drama that can be created in the final three holes at TPC Sawgrass’ PLAYERS Stadium Course. He needed just one putt over that stretch to collect his lone PGA TOUR victory.
“You have the risk-reward 16th, one of the most famous par-3s in all of golf and I think arguably the toughest finishing hole in championship golf,” Perks, the 2002 THE PLAYERS Championship winner, said. He chipped in for eagle at the par-5 16th, made a birdie on No. 17 and chipped in for par at the final hole to win by two shots over Stephen Ames.
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem announced Wednesday that those three holes will be the site of an aggregate playoff in the event that THE PLAYERS Championship ends in a tie. If players remain tied after those three holes, the playoff reverts to sudden death starting on 17, followed by 18-16-17-18 and so on until a winner is determined. This is the first time in tournament history that a three-hole playoff system will be used.
Playoffs at THE PLAYERS used to use a sudden-death format beginning at the island-green, par-3 17th.
“Given the fact that winning THE PLAYERS means you have defeated the strongest field in golf, we felt an aggregate playoff that incorporated these three holes was a more appropriate way to determine the champion,” Finchem said.
The PGA Championship also uses a three-hole playoff, while The Open Championship uses a four-hole playoff. The Masters Tournament is decided by sudden-death.
There have been three playoffs since THE PLAYERS Championship moved to TPC Sawgrass. The last two ended on the first hole, the par-3 17th. Sergio Garcia won with par in 2008 after Paul Goydos hit his tee shot in the water, while K.J. Choi won with par in 2011 after David Toms missed a short par putt.
“There will no doubt be more drama, more excitement and more memorable moments going forward thanks to this change,” said PLAYERS Championship executive director Matt Rapp.
Since 1983, single-round performances on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course's final three holes have ranged from 4 under par to 12 over par.
THE PLAYERS Stadium Course’s final three holes consist of the course’s easiest hole, its most recognizable and its most difficult. The 16th, a 523-yard, par-5 with water right of the green, played to a 4.59 stroke average last year; it was the lowest stroke average with relation to par. The famed island-green 17th, which plays 137 yards, was the ninth-easiest hole (3.06) last year, while the 462-yard, par-4 18th was the most difficult (4.39). TPC Sawgrass’ water-lined 18th was the 13th-most difficult hole on the PGA TOUR in 2013, and the third-most difficult finishing hole, trailing only the 18th holes at Merion (U.S. Open) and Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge (Arnold Palmer Invitational).
“I think it’s fair because all three holes are so different,” David Lingmerth, runner-up at the 2013 PLAYERS, said of the new playoff format. “I don’t think anyone has an advantage because you’re presented with all different types of shots.”
Notes and stats on 16, 17 and 18
Since 1983, scores on the final 3 holes on TPC Sawgrass have ranged from 1 to 12.
The stretch consists of the hole with the lowest stroke average to par (16), the most well-known hole on the course (17) and the most difficult hole on the course (18).
Hole Ranks and average score on TPC Sawgrass from 1983-2013:
• 16th hole – Par 5 4.65 (Greatest Risk-Reward Hole on Course)
• 17th hole – Par 3 3.11 (9th Toughest Hole on Course)
• 18th hole – Par 4 4.34 (Toughest Hole on Course)
Since 1983, single-round performances on the final 3 holes range from 4-under (the best) to 12-over par (the highest).
THE PLAYERS joins the PGA Championship in using a three-hole, aggregate playoff.
The U.S. Open is the only event to use an 18-hole playoff format; The Open Championship uses a four-hole aggregate playoff; the Masters Tournament and all other events on the PGA TOUR utilize a sudden-death playoff structure.
There have been four playoffs in the 40-year history of THE PLAYERS, three at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass:
• 1981 – Raymond Floyd defeated Barry Jaeckel and Curtis Strange with a par on the first playoff hole (par-3 15th, Sawgrass Country Club);
• 1987 – Sandy Lyle defeated Jeff Sluman with a par on the third playoff hole (par-5 16th, par-3 17th, par-4 18th, TPC Sawgrass);
• 2008 – Sergio Garcia defeated Paul Goydos with a par on the first playoff hole (par-3 17th, TPC Sawgrass)
• 2011 – K.J. Choi defeated David Toms with a par on the first playoff hole (par-3 17th, TPC Sawgrass)
“Holes 16, 17 and 18 of THE PLAYERS Stadium Course are perhaps the most dramatic closing holes in professional golf from a risk-reward standpoint, as they test all facets of a player’s physical and mental game while under the pressure of trying to win such a significant championship,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Given the fact that winning THE PLAYERS means you have defeated the strongest field in golf, we felt an aggregate playoff that incorporated these three holes was a more appropriate way to determine the champion.”
“Every year, we endeavor to make THE PLAYERS Championship a better experience for the fans than the year before, and going to an aggregate, three-hole playoff structure continues that tradition,” said THE PLAYERS Executive Director Matt Rapp. “There will no doubt be more drama, more excitement and more memorable moments going forward thanks to this change.”
“We welcome the new playoff format, which will add even more excitement to this great event,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman, NBC Sports Group. "Playing these final three dramatic holes in a playoff will be an exceptional and appropriate test for THE PLAYERS."
The Gauntlet at TPC Sawgrass Flyover Compilation
The Gauntlet at TPC Sawgrass Flyover Compilation