01/31/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/31/2018 13:19
The most sudden-death playoffs in a single PGA TOUR season came in 2011, when 18 playoffs were needed in the 46-event schedule - a rate of nearly 40 percent. Based on the current trend, we might be headed for a record number this season.
Of the first 12 tournaments played in the 2017-18 season, five have gone to a playoff - including the last three events. That's a rate of 42 percent.
Last week's winner of the Farmers Insurance Open, Jason Day, needed six extra holes and one extra day to finally subdue Alex Noren (with Ryan Palmer eliminated after the first hole). Those six holes matched the cumulative total needed for the other four playoffs this season (won by Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Patton Kizzire and Jon Rahm).
No one would be surprised if the playoff streak continues at this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open. Hideki Matsuyama is the two-time defending champ, and each of those wins at TPC Scottsdale required four extra holes - in 2016 over Rickie Fowler and last year against Webb Simpson.
Both years, Matsuyama began the final round having to make up significant ground - he trailed by three strokes after 54 holes in 2016 and by four strokes after 54 holes last year. Simpson was even farther off the pace, by six shots going into Sunday.
The fact that both players emerged as the playoff participants speaks volumes about the leaderboard volatility at TPC Scottsdale.
'I knew that the birdie holes for this golf course were on the back and they were in front of me,' Simpson explained after shooting 64 in the final round last year. 'You know, the reason it's a great course is because those birdie holes have trouble, so a lot can happen.'
Fowler agrees that the back nine offers chasers the opportunity to make up big chunks of ground while tempting the leaders into dangerous territory. Of the last eight winners at TPC Scottsdale, seven have come from behind in the final round.
'The back nine here, there is so much that can happen,' Fowler said after his T-4 finish last year. 'It can be tough playing out front because this golf course allows you to be very aggressive, and playing from behind, if you drive it well, you're going to have a lot of looks at birdies and have potentially three looks at eagles.
'You can shoot 5-, 6-, 7-under on the back nine pretty quickly. If you get through the front nine a few under par and catch up with some guys, it's kind of a shootout 'til the finish.'
THREE PLAYERS TO PONDER