MANY will remember the last full Monday playoff for the US Open title, when in 2008 a limping Tiger Woods took 19 holes to finally beat an aging “Cinderella” golfer in Rocco Mediate.
Whilst the other majors have immediate playoffs of various kinds to solve any Sunday afternoon stalemates, the USGA has long persisted with 18 holes on Monday, followed by sudden death if things were still tied.
There were said to be some 25000 golf fans at Torrey Pines in 2008 to watch just two golfers battle it out, with some waiting in the stands on the 18th as early as 6am.
Woods captured what was his 14th major on the 91st hole, then days later announced he was having reconstructive surgery on his left knee that would sideline him for the rest of the 2008 season (at least).
Those days are gone as of this week with the USGA announcing it was abandoning its 18-hole playoff format for its Open championships in favor of a two-hole aggregate. If a tie remains, the players will go to sudden death.
“Golf really in this day and age has gotten to the point where everyone wanted to see a Sunday finish,” said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA.
“And based on that, we’ve made the decision we’re going to make this change to all four Open championships that we play, and starting this year we are going to a two-hole aggregate playoff.”
Davis said the amendment comes after consulting with players, officials, volunteers, and the broadcaster, and helps maintain the excitement generated in the final round.
“When we looked at it, studied a lot of data, there is no right or wrong way to determine a tie in stroke play,” Davis said. “Two holes will allow a player to recover from any single mistake, and at the same time, provide a memorable, and perhaps dramatic, experience for all involved.”
There have been 33 playoffs in US Open history, with the 2008 showdown the most recent.
The two-hole aggregate is more in line with the Open Championship (four-hole aggregate) and the PGA Championship (three-hole aggregate), whilst The Masters employs a sudden-death playoff.
This year’s US Open will be held at Shinnecock Hills. The Women’s Open will be at Shoal Creek, with the Broadmoor (Men’s) and Chicago G.C. (Women’s) hosting the senior championships.