Exploring Kevin Kisner’s insanely bad luck in PGA Tour playoffs
Kevin Kisner has three PGA Tour wins in his career, but there’s an argument to be made that he should have several more.
Kisner holds a distinct (and unfortunate) record in playoffs. He’s played bonus golf five times in his career on Tour, yet he’s never won once. Five playoffs, five losses. (The latest came on Sunday.) Not exactly a record you want to hold.
To add salt to the wound, he’s never played particularly poorly in his playoff losses. In fact, he’s been eliminated by a birdie each time. Tough luck, but sometimes, them’s the breaks.
Here’s a look back at each of Kisner’s five playoff Ls, and what could have been.
2015 RBC Heritage
In 2015, Kisner was looking for his first career victory on Tour. He very nearly got it done at Harbour Town as he closed with a 64, among the best rounds of the day. Unfortunately, he was bested by a stroke as Jim Furyk posted a 63 to take the clubhouse lead.
Kisner stepped to the 18th tee in Hilton Head needing a birdie to tie Furyk’s lead, which he did to force a playoff on the 18th. In the playoff, Kisner once again birdied the hole, but it was matched by Furyk, extending the playoff to the par-3 17th. Kisner was unable to roll in his 17-footer for a third straight birdie, and Furyk was able to hole his birdie try for his first win in 100 starts.
“I hit every iron shot coming down the stretch, just like I wanted to,” Kisner said. “The next time I’m in it, it can happen again.”
2015 Players Championship
Just a few weeks later, Kisner again put himself in position to snag his first Tour victory — this time at one of the grandest stages in all of golf: TPC Sawgrass. Kisner played beautifully coming down the stretch, birdieing 16 and 17, a feat matched by fellow playoff participant Sergio Garcia. But Rickie Fowler’s five-under stretch over the last four holes was the most impressive golf that day. Kisner had a chance to take the title in regulation, but his birdie putt on No. 18 just missed.
“I early called it in my head probably,” Kisner said of his putt on 18. “Two feet out I said, that’s center cut.”
It just wasn’t meant to be.
Kisner again birdied 17 in the three-hole aggregate playoff, but Fowler matched him blow for blow as the two eliminated Garcia with a one-under score. They headed back to the 17th once again where Fowler birdied it for a third time on the day, while Kisner could only manage par.
2015 Greenbrier Classic
For the third time in the 2015 season, Kisner had an opportunity to claim his first victory on Tour. But for the third time, he lost in a playoff, this time at the Greenbrier.
Kisner closed with a 64, but it was only good enough to force a four-man playoff with Robert Streb, David Hearn and Danny Lee. It was a quick exit for Kisner as Lee and Hearn made birdies on the playoff hole to eliminate Kisner and Streb, as Lee won with a par on the second playoff hole.
“I keep knocking on (the door), I’ll be there soon enough,” Kisner said. “I keep playing well, I’ll win one of them.”
Although he was correct about eventually getting his first win on Tour (he won later in the year at the Mayakoba), he was incorrect in his presumption that he would eventually win in a playoff.
2017 Zurich Classic
This is a team event, so while the loss doesn’t fully fall on his shoulders, it’s still yet another playoff without a victory.
Kisner and partner Scott Brown were red hot on Sunday as they fired a best-ball 60(!), but that was only good enough to force a playoff against Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith. Despite playing the par-5 18th hole three times in the playoff, Kisner and Brown were never able to make birdie and eventually lost to a Blixt/Smith birdie on the fourth playoff hole on Monday morning.
“It was fun to be in a battle with him and have a chance to win,” Kisner said. “We were close. Had a chance there and I just didn’t get it done, but we’ll be back next year.”
2020 RSM Classic
And of course, the most recent playoff loss came on Sunday at the RSM Classic. After yet another stellar Sunday with a round of 63, Kisner was able to force a playoff. Yet again, his Sunday heroics were not rewarded.
Streb matched Kisner with a par at the 18th (Kisner missed his birdie try to win), and when they played the hole again, Streb nearly jarred his approach and tapped in for a birdie and the win.
“Hats off to Robert, he hit a heck of a shot on 18 and he played great as well to come back,” Kisner said. “I just want to keep my playoff record intact here on Tour and not have a win in a playoff.”
Can this guy catch a break?