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Masters playoff format is changed

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AUGUSTA, Georgia -- The format for a U.S. Masters playoff has been changed for this week's event for the first time since 1976, organisers have announced.

Should extra holes of 'sudden death' be needed to decide this year's winner at Augusta National, the playoff will start at the 465-yard 18th instead of at the 495-yard 10th.

"We really think this is a more exciting format," said Augusta National Golf Club chairman Hootie Johnson.

"We plan to start our playoff, if we have one, on 18. And then play 10 and 18, and stay in that rotation. And it will still be sudden death."

Asked why the change was made, Johnson replied: "We just thought it was best. But it is better on daylight for us as well."

Will Nicholson, chairman of the competition committee, added there had been some consideration on starting the playoff on 10 before playing 18, if required.

"We went through that discussion and settled on 18-10, primarily in consideration of all our patrons that are on the 18th hole," he said.

"It's going to take a couple seconds to put them in the cart and take them down to 18 and start a playoff."

The decision to start a Masters playoff at the par-four 10th hole was made in 1976. Previously a playoff took place over the full 18 holes the following day.

The first sudden-death playoff took place in 1979, when debutant Fuzzy Zoeller birdied the second extra hole, the 11th, to edge out Tom Watson and Ed Sneed.

Since then, four other players have won the Masters in a playoff -- Craig Stadler in 1982, Larry Mize (1987), Nick Faldo (1989 and 1990) and Mike Weir, who edged out Len Mattiace to win last year's title.

All but two of the Masters playoffs have been decided at the 490-yard 11th hole, Mize chipping in there for the 1987 title.

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