Olympic golf playoff format: What happens if two players tie for a medal?

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Things are tight at the top of the men's Olympic golf leaderboard, and there is a good chance a playoff will be used to determine the medals.

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Three rounds are in the books at the Men’s Olympic Golf Competition, and things are tight at the top of the leaderboard. American Xander Schauffele leads the way at 14 under while Japan-native Hideki Matsuyama lurks on shot back. In total, 16 players are within six shots of the lead.

With things so bunched together at the top, there is a good chance a playoff is needed to determine the final standings. And while in normal tournaments a playoff is only used when there is a tie for first, at the Olympics a playoff is used when there is a tie for any of the three medal positions.

Guidelines from the International Golf Federation reads as follows:

“In the event of a tie for first, second or third place at the conclusion of 72 holes of stroke play, a playoff or multiple playoffs shall be conducted for the purpose of determining the gold, silver and bronze medal winner. Such playoffs shall be on a hole-by-hole basis immediately following the conclusion of the final round.”

If only one playoff is needed to determine all three medals, “holes 18, 10 and 11 will be played and this loop will be repeated for as long as necessary. As medals are determined, play will continue to determine any remaining medals as necessary.”

However, if two playoffs are necessary — to determine gold/silver and bronze/fourth place — the gold/silver playoff will be played on 18, 10 and 11, while the bronze/fourth place playoff will play 11, 18 and 10 simultaneously.

It’s sure to be an exciting finish at Kasumigaseki Country Club.


Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.