USGA ends 18-hole playoff format for US Opens

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New York (AFP) – The United States Golf Association said Monday it would no longer hold 18-hole playoffs for its four Open championships, saying it was responding to demand for its tournaments to be settled on Sundays.

A statement from the USGA said that from now on, the US Open, US Women’s Open, US Senior Open and US Senior Women’s Open would instead be decided by a two-hole aggegrate playoff in the event of a tie after 72 holes.

“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,” USGA chief executive Mike Davis said.

“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.”

In the 117-year history of the US Open, the tournament has been settled by a playoff on 33 occasions, both by 18-hole and 36-hole formats.

The most recent winner via a playoff was Tiger Woods, who won a thrilling duel with Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines at the 2008 US Open in sudden death, after an 18-hole playoff finished in a tie.

From now on however, all four USGA Open championships will use a two-hole aggregate playoff to settle a tie. If the playoff results in a tie, players would proceed to a hole-by-hole sudden death.

“There is no right or wrong way to determine a winner in stroke play, but we’ve seen over the years how the aggregate playoff has served us well in both the US Women’s Open and US Senior Open,” Davis added.

“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.”

The change brings the US Open into line with the other three golf majors. The Masters scrapped the 18-hole playoff in 1976, followed by the PGA Championship a year later. The British Open switched to a four-hole playoff in 1986.

This year’s US Open takes place at Shinnecock Hills in New York from June 14-17.

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