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Should 72 holes fail to be enough to find a winner at Augusta National, then extra holes will be needed. But how does the Masters playoff format work? Let’s dive in.

Each major adopts a different playoff format, all of which have evolved over the years. And the Masters is no different.

A brief history of Masters playoffs

No fewer than 17 Masters titles have been decided by extra holes:

• 1935: Gene Sarazen beat Craig Wood

• 1942: Byron Nelson beat Ben Hogan

•1954: Sam Snead beat Ben Hogan

• 1962: Arnold Palmer beat Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald

• 1966: Jack Nicklaus beat Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer

• 1970: Billy Casper beat Gene Littler

• 1979: Fuzzy Zoeller beat Ed Sneed and Tom Watson

• 1982: Craig Stadler beat Dan Pohl

• 1987: Larry Mize beat Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman

• 1989: Nick Faldo beat Scott Hoch

• 1990: Nick Faldo beat Raymond Floyd

• 2003: Mike Weir beat Len Mattiace

• 2005: Tiger Woods beat Chris DiMarco

• 2009: Angel Cabrera beat Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell

• 2012: Bubba Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen

• 2013: Adam Scott beat Angel Cabrera

• 2017: Sergio Garcia beat Justin Rose

Masters playoff format
The last Masters playoff was between Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose in 2017. (Credit: Getty Images)

The original Masters playoff format was 36 holes played on the Monday, but this was only used once in 1935, before it changed to an 18-hole playoff, which was used to decide the destination of the Green Jacket on five occasions from 1942 to 1970.

Augusta National adopted the sudden-death playoff format in 1976. It was originally planned to start on the opening hole, with the competitors playing the course in order until there was a winner. But this format was never used and in 1979 it was changed to the back-nine, so players would start on the 10th and play until there was a winner. The reason for this change? The back-nine was where the TV cameras were positioned in those days. This arrangement was used on six occasions between ’79 and 2003.

In 2004 it was changed to the playoff format it is today. Speaking of which…

• How much prize money is on offer at the Masters?

• What does the Masters champion win?

• What is the cut rule at the Masters?

The Masters playoff format

These days it is a much more simple affair.

If two or more players are tied at the top of the leaderboard following the conclusion of play on the final day of the Masters, they will enter a sudden death playoff.

They will start on the 18th, followed by the adjacent 10th, and they will repeat those two holes until one player remains.

Incidentally, of the 11 Masters playoffs since the inception of the sudden-death format, none have advanced past a second extra hole.

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