The Longest Playoffs in PGA Tour History

What is the longest playoff in PGA Tour history? What we are talking about here are sudden-death playoffs. In earlier times, many (most) PGA Tour events scheduled 18-hole, next-day playoffs. Beginning in the late 1950s and especially in the early 1960s, nearly all tournaments that used those 18-hole, next-day playoffs switched to the sudden-death format.

A sudden-death playoff is one in which the golfers involved play only until one of them records a lower score on a hole than the others — until one of them wins a hole outright, in other words. Therefore, most of them end pretty quickly.

But not all of them! In PGA Tour history, there have been some long sudden-death playoffs — some sudden-death playoffs that were not sudden at all. In fact, the record for the longest is a whopping 11 holes. We'll look at that one first, then, below, list the other longest playoffs on the PGA Tour.

PGA Tour Record: 11-Hole 'Sudden'-Death Playoff

In this playoff in 1949, the participants were two future Hall of Famers, and they both wound up winning.

The Motor City Open was played in Detroit, sporadically, from 1948 through 1962. In 1949, Lloyd Mangrum and Cary Middlecoff tied at 11-under 273. That established a tournament scoring record that stood until the 1959 tournament.

So they continued into a sudden-death playoff. Only problem was, they kept matching scores. And the playoff kept going ... and going ... and darkness kept growing nearer and nearer. And they wound up running out of daylight before either of them could win a hole.

Middlecoff and Mangrum tied each other on 11 successive playoff holes, and by that point it was simply too dark to continue. The players and tournament officials decided to halt the playoff and declare the two golfers co-champions. They combined the first- and second-place money and split it equally.

One year later, in the 1950 tournament, the same two golfers were in the thick of things again. Middlecoff was the midway leader. But it was Mangrum who repeated as champion of the Motor City Open in 1950, this time as the solo winner. Mangrum won by one stroke over Sam Snead. Then Middlecoff won this tournament the next two times it was played, in 1952 and 1954.

List of PGA Tour's Longest Sudden-Death Playoffs

  • 11 holes — 1949 Motor City Open: Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum
  • 8 holes — 1965 Azalea Open: Dick Hart def. Phil Rodgers
  • 8 holes — 1978 Greater Milwaukee Open: Lee Elder def. Lee Trevino
  • 8 holes — 1981 Quad Cities Open: Dave Barr def. Woody Blackburn, Dan Halldorson, Frank Conner, Victor Regalado
  • 8 holes — 1983 Phoenix Open: Bob Gilder def. Rex Caldwell, Johnny Miller, Mark O'Meara
  • 8 holes — 2012 Mayakoba Golf Classic: John Huh def. Robert Allenby
  • 8 holes — 2021 Travelers Championship: Harris English def. Kramer Hickok
What is the longest overall playoff in PGA Tour history? Two golfers played a 72-hole playoff at the 1931 U.S. Open.

See also: Longest sudden-death playoffs in LPGA Tour history

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