The Longest Playoffs in Golf History

What is the longest playoff in the history of professional tournament golf? When golf fans talk about playoffs, we are mostly thinking of sudden-death playoffs. And the longest "sudden"-death playoff on any of the world's top golf tourns lasted a whopping 14 holes.

But before we get to the list of longest sudden-death playoffs, we need to crown the overall champion. The farther back you go in golf history, the more likely a playoff was to be scheduled for a full 18 holes. It wasn't until the 1970s, for example, that all PGA Tour events (other than majors) switched to the sudden-death format. (The last 18-hole playoff in a regular (non-major) PGA Tour tournament was in 1972.)

And once upon a time, there was a 72-hole playoff. It happened in the 1931 U.S. Open, where Billy Burke and George Von Elm finished regulation (the first 72 holes) tied. So they entered into a playoff scheduled for 36 holes, which was what the USGA required at that time. And at the end of that, they were still tied. So they played another 36 holes. And after that 72-hole playoff, after 144 holes total, Burke beat Von Elm by a single stroke. Over 144 holes, Burke used 589 strokes, Von Elm 590. And that is the longest overall playoff in pro golf history.

Longest Sudden-Death Playoffs on Pro Tours

This list includes all the sudden-death playoffs on the world's major golf tours that lasted at least nine holes. (At least, all those we could find.) You can find additional long, sudden-death playoffs, albeit shorter than nine holes, in our articles about the longest PGA Tour playoffs, longest LPGA Tour playoffs, and longest Champions Tour playoffs.
  • 14 holes, Japan Tour, 1976 Pepsi-Wilson Tournament, Peter Thomson def. Graham Marsh, Brian Jones and Shozo Miyamoto
  • 11 holes, PGA Tour, 1949 Motor City Open, Cary Middlecoff vs. Lloyd Mangrum, halted by darkness and declared a tie
  • 11 holes, Tour, 2014 Cleveland Open, Steven Alker def. Dawie van der Walt
  • 10 holes, Champions Tour, 1998 Royal Caribbean Classic, David Graham def. Dave Stockton
  • 10 Holes, Asian Tour, 2023 St. Andrews Bay Championship, Eugenio Chacarra def. Matt Jones
  • 10 Holes, LPGA Tour, 1972 Corpus Christi Civitan Open: Jo Ann Prentice def. Sandra Palmer and Kathy Whitworth
  • 9 Holes, European Tour, 1989 Dutch Open, Jose Maria Olazabal def. Ronan Rafferty and Roger Chapman
  • 9 Holes, Futures Tour, 1990 JWA Futures Charity Golf Classic, Denise Baldwin def. Shelly Rule
  • 9 Holes, Champions Tour, 1997 Toshiba Senior Classic, Bob Murphy def. Jay Sigel
  • 9 Holes, Nike Tour, 1998 Lehigh Valley Open, Eric Booker def. Notah Begah III
  • 9 Holes, Champions Tour, 2001 Toshiba Senior Classic, Jose Maria Canizares def. Gil Morgan
  • 9 Holes, Futures Tour, 2006 IOS Futures Golf Classic, Song-Hee Kim def. Sarah Huarte
  • 9 Holes, Nationwide Tour, 2009 Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, Gary Christian def. Mathias Gronberg
  • 9 Holes, LPGA Tour, 2012 Kingsmill Championship: Jiyai Shin def. Paula Creamer
  • 9 Holes, European Tour, 2013 Spanish Open, Raphael Jacquelin def. Maximilian Kiefer and Felipe Aguilar
  • 9 Holes, Japan Tour, 2016 Honma TourWorld Cup, Yuta Ikeda def. Yonghan Song
  • 9 Holes, LPGA Tour, 2023 Maybank Championship: Celine Boutier def. Atthaya Thitikul
The all-time record for longest, sudden-death playoff on a major world tour is the one that lasted 14 holes on the Japan Tour in 1976. And it is fitting that this record-long playoff was won by another all-timer, Peter Thomson. Thomson, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, had dozens of wins in Europe and elsewhere, including five British Open titles. His win in the 1976 Pepsi-Wilson Tournament was one of six wins he had in Japan.

Thomson outlasted three other golfers in the playoff. Shozo Miyamoto went out on the first hole with a bogey. Brian Jones was eliminated on the fourth hole when he double-bogeyed. Graham Marsh stuck with Thomson through 13 holes, matching scores — all pars except when both bogeyed the eighth extra hole. Finally, Thomson won the playoff and the tournament by making par on the 14th extra hole while Marsh bogeyed.

Those 14 extra holes made the total number of holes played for the playoff participants 68, because rain had forced the event to shorten to three rounds.

Related articles:

Associated Press. "Alker wins Tour-record 11-hole playoff," June 8, 2014,
Epson Tour. "Miscellaneous Player Records," All-Time Records,
Herzig, Gabrielle. "LIV Golf's Eugenio Chacarra wins on Asian Tour after historic 10-hole playoff,", August 27, 2023,
LPGA Tour. 2021 Player Guide.
PGA Tour. The 2020-21 Media Guide.
PGA Tour. PGA Tour Champions Official 2016 Guide.
Sydney Morning Herald. "Thomson wins 14-hole play-off," May 24, 1976,

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