Rules clear up confusion regarding final-round pairings


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – “First in, last out.”

That’s the edict that almost always dictates how the PGA Tour arranges its weekend pairings at each event. The first person to post his score at a given number is the last of those at that number to tee off in the following round, and vice versa.

As a result, many assumed that Tiger Woods, who holed out just ahead of Sergio Garcia on the 18th green Sunday morning, would play in the final pairing with David Lingmerth, as all three players finished the first 54 holes at 11 under. Instead, the rules dictate that Garcia will play this afternoon along with the unheralded Swede, while Woods will join Casey Wittenberg in the penultimate pairing.

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Here’s the breakdown: because Woods and Garcia played together in the third round and went on to post the same 54-hole score, the priority for final-round pairings reverted back to how the third round began. Because Garcia, who led by one shot after 36 holes, had the honors on the first tee Saturday, he will tee off after Woods on Sunday.

According to PGA Tour officials, the rule is in place at all of their events, not just The Players Championship, and has long been the preferred method of breaking such an unusual deadlock.

With the final round now underway, Garcia and Lingmerth will be the last two players to tee off at 2:38 p.m., while Woods and Wittenberg will start their rounds just ahead of them at 2:28 p.m. Henrik Stenson and Ryan Palmer, both just one shot off the lead at 10 under, will play together in the 2:18 p.m. pairing.