PGA Tour Golfers Who Played the Most Playoffs in a Single Year

Arnold Palmer Lincoln Continental postcard from 1970

What is the highest number of playoffs one golfer has played on the PGA Tour in a single season? The answer is four, and two Hall of Famers share that record. And in both cases, the two record-holders each played in one sudden-death playoff, but three 18-hole playoffs. Several other golfers in tour history have played in three playoffs in a single season, most of those happening recently.

Record-Holders: 4 Playoffs, Jack Burke Jr. and Arnold Palmer

Jack Burke Jr. in 1952 and Arnold Palmer in 1963 each played in four playoffs, and that is the record for most playoff appearances in a single PGA Tour season.

Jack Burke Jr., 4 Playoffs, 1952 (2 wins, 2 losses)

  • Los Angeles Open: Lost 18-hole playoff against Tommy Bolt and Dutch Harrison. Bolt won with a 69, Burke scored 71 and Harrison 74.
  • Baton Rouge Open: Won 18-hole playoff against Bolt and Bill Nary, in extra holes. All three tied with 70s, so they continued into sudden death. Bolt was eliminated on the first hole, and Burke beat Nary on the second sudden-death hole.
  • Kansas City Open: Lost 18-hole playoff to Cary Middlecoff, who scored 66 to Burke's 72.
  • Miami Open: Won sudden-death playoff against Dick Mayer with a birdie on the fifth extra hole.

Arnold Palmer, 4 Playoffs, 1963 (3 wins, 1 loss)

  • Thunderbird Classic Invitational: Palmer defeated Paul Harney in a sudden-death playoff with a par on the first extra hole.
  • U.S. Open: Lost an 18-hole playoff against Julius Boros and Jacky Cupit. Boros won with a 70, Cupit had a 73 and Palmer scored 76.
  • Cleveland Open Invitational: Beat Tommy Aaron and Tony Lema in an 18-hole playoff. Palmer scored 67 while Aaron and Lema both had 70s.
  • Western Open: Palmer won an 18-hole playoff against Boros and Jack Nicklaus. Palmer shot 70, Boros had a 71 and Nicklaus scored 73.
In both Burke's and Palmer's cases, the golfers had big years overall. Burke, in addition to his two playoff victories, won another three tournaments for five wins overall, tied with Sam Snead for the tour lead. He finished third on the money list and won the Vardon Trophy for low scoring average. In 1963, Palmer led the tour with seven wins and also led the money list. Burke's career record in PGA Tour playoffs was 4-4; Palmer's career playoff record was 14-10.

List: Most Playoff Appearances in a Season on the PGA Tour

  • 4 playoffs — Burke and Palmer
  • 3 playoffs — Horton Smith, 1937 (St. Petersburgh Open, Western Open, Hollywood Hotel Open, lost all three)
  • 3 playoffs — Bill Haas, 2011 (lost at the Bob Hope Classic and Greenbrier Classic, won at the Tour Championship)
  • 3 playoffs — Webb Simpson, 2011 (lost at the Zurich Classic, won the Deutsche Bank Championship, lost the McGladrey Classic)
  • 3 playoffs — Kevin Kisner, 2015 (lost all three — RBC Heritage, Players Championship, Greenbrier Classic)
  • 3 playoffs — Justin Thomas, 2018 (won at the CJ Cup Nine Bridges and Honda Classic, lost at the WGC Mexico Championship)
  • 3 playoffs — Will Zalatoris, 2022 (lost Farmers Insurance Open and PGA Championship, won FedEx St. Jude Championship)
Smith was the first golfer to play in three PGA Tour playoffs in a single season, and he lost all three. But don't feel too bad for him, he won three other tournaments that year.

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Photo credit: "1970 Continental Mark III with Arnold Palmer" by aldenjewell is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

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