How Are PGA Tour Tee Times Determined?

If you’ve been to a PGA event or played in golf tournament before, you might be wondering how tee times are determined for PGA tournaments. Is it random for the first day? What if players are tied and have the same score? Do they always play with the same person or group?

Well, if you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions you’ve come to the right place because here, we will be discussing all things tee times on the PGA Tour.

What Factors Determine PGA Tour Tee Times?

To start, PGA Tour tee times are chosen and put out based on a merit system. While there is no concrete evidence from the PGA Tour on this matter, it is based on the following criteria:

PGA Tour tee times are determined based on the players ranking in the FedEx Cup standings, the number of major championships a player has won, total PGA Tour wins, and years the player has spent on tour (Source).

So, the more wins and years on tour a player has, the higher likelihood they have of getting a more preferred tee time. So, they will not have a tee time super early in the day.

The PGA Tour also follows a model for the tee times on Thursday and Friday of tournament weeks. If you have a morning tee time on Thursday, you will likely have an afternoon tee time on Friday. So, if a player is in the first group out on Thursday morning at 6am, they will more than likely have a tee time on Friday in the afternoon.

For the final two rounds of professional golf tournaments the tee times are based on the player’s position on the leaderboard.

For example, if the cut line for the Masters Tournament was even par, all of the golfers who made the cut at even par would be the first players to play on Saturday morning and the leaders of the tournament would tee off last.

Because the cut diminishes the field by about half for the weekend rounds, the golfers will golf in pairs instead of foursomes and the tee times will usually begin around eight in the morning.

men playing golf

This allows the golfers to play a little faster being in pairs rather than in foursomes, which the professional players enjoy.

How Are PGA Tour Pairings Determined?

PGA Tour pairings are also based on the merit system outlined above with a little bit of a twist in some cases. In today’s era of professional golf, the media outlets that broadcast professional golf also have somewhat of a say in which players get paired together.

If you watch golf on ESPN Plus or if you have watched the Masters Tournament on their website, then you know that they air a broadcast titled “Featured Group Coverage”.

Featured group coverage is a specific group on the course where you can watch all of their shots for that round and the camera only follows that group. These are pre-determined groups that will be on featured group coverage for the first two rounds of the tournament.

The PGA Tour and the broadcasting companies often will group together some of the more popular golfers on tour for featured group coverage so more fans will watch the broadcast.

PGA Tour Grouping, Tour Pairings

Also, based on the merit system outlined above, pairings follow the same model for Thursday and Friday rounds. Players with more tour experience and status will be paired with similar players for the first 2 rounds of the golf tournaments.

If a player is new to the tour or was a Monday qualifier, they are likely to be paired with other tour rookies or Monday qualifiers and get the less desired tee times.

Who Plays In The Final Group If There Are Identical Scores?

Sometimes, but not always, there will be a scenario where more than two golfers will be tied for the lead or in second place going into the final round on Sunday. The most recent and notable example of this was the 2021 Masters.

In 2021, after 54 holes, Japanese player Hideki Matsuyama held a four stroke lead at eleven under par over four other golfers: Marc Leishman, Xander Schauffele, Justin Rose, and Will Zalatoris.

Of the four golfers who were tied for second it was Xander Schaufelle who was paired with Hideki Matsuyama. He was paired with Hideki over the other three golfers because he finished his round before the other three golfers finished their round.

That is what happens when golfers finish 54 holes, and they are tied with multiple golfers. The golfer who finishes their third round first, and posts that number first, gets to be in the final pairing.

There is no difference between the Master’s Tournament and a regular PGA Tour event when it comes to the final pairing on the final day. In the event of a tie, the golfers who finished the third round first will be in the final pairing, essentially a first-in-last-out scenario.

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