If the 2021 The Players Championship goes to a playoff, it will be the first time the PGA Tour’s crown jewel will be decided under a new playoff format announced in 2014.
In the event of a 72-hole tie at TPC Sawgrass, the playoff competitors will play the par-5 16th, par-3 17th and par-4 18th — sometimes called The Gauntlet — in order, with the best aggregate score winning the title.
If, after those three holes, any playoff competitors are tied, then the format changes to sudden death, with the remaining players returning to No. 17, followed by 18-16-17-18 until a winner has been decided.
Previously, if The Players went to a playoff, it had been decided in a sudden-death playoff starting at No. 17. There have been three playoffs at The Players since it moved to TPC Sawgrass, with Sergio Garcia defeating Paul Goydos in 2008 and K.J. Choi beating David Toms in 2011 on the first hole.
The three-hole aggregate-score playoff has been played once, back in 2015, when Rickie Fowler won over 2008 Players champion Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner to secure his biggest PGA Tour win.
Most weeks on the PGA Tour, the playoff competitors are engaged in hole-by-hole sudden-death playoffs to determine the winner. However, The Players is similar to three of four men’s major championships that have playoff formats decided in aggregate-score playoffs. The US Open playoff format is two holes, with the PGA Championship at three holes and the British Open Championship at four holes.