The famous 18-hole playoff on Monday to decide the US Open has been ditched from 2018 after organizers decided instead to replace it with a two-hole showdown between players tied at the top of the leaderboard.
If a playoff was needed to decide the winner of the U.S. Open—traditionally the second major of the season taking place in June each year—it was played on the Monday after the conclusion of the four rounds of the event, which always finishes on Father’s Day.
But the United States Golf Association (USGA) has bowed down to the pressures of fans and broadcasters alike and opted to change the format. It will now see a two-hole aggregate playoff staged between those tied at the top of the leaderboard. It will take place immediately after the conclusion of the final round although not necessarily over holes 17 and 18 as has been suggested.
Should the players involved in the playoff still be tied after the two-hole playoff, it would then revert to a sudden death format to determine the winner.
A welcome decision
“We know how important it is to everyone in the golf world to see play conclude on the Sunday of a major championship, and to award the trophy to the champion,” said USGA executive director Mike Davis, adding that the new two-hole aggregate format will also be used in the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
“There was a time when they did make sense before television, before the modern era of wanting everything decided immediately. There is no correct way to determine a tie in stroke play.
“After receiving input from a variety of constituents, including players, fans, volunteers, officials and our broadcast partners, it clearly came across as something that everyone valued and would benefit from.”
The latest move brings the U.S. Open closer to the formats used in the other three majors. The Masters is a straight sudden-death playoff between the tied leaders, The Open Championship features a four-hole aggregate playoff and the PGA Championship takes place over a three-hole aggregate decider.
New championship venue
The U.S. Open, which moves venues year-on-year and which will take place at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island from June 14-17 2018, has had 33 playoffs to decide the winner in its 117 years. The last edition to require a playoff was in 2008 when Tiger Woods triumphed for the last of his 14 majors. Ironically, Woods needed 19 holes to beat Rocco Mediate after the pair remained tied after the playoff.
Prior to Woods’ playoff win, only Ernie Els in 1994 and Retief Goosen in 2001 had needed to come through 18-hole playoffs to secure their U.S. Open victories in the last 25 years.
The 10-year drought for a playoff is the longest in the history of the U.S. Open, which previously had a 36-hole decider before switching to an 18-hole play-off in 1931.