0:51 | Tour & News
Does the USGA need to bulk up on its course selection?
Brooks Koepka beat Erin Hills into submission last year. Should the USGA be looking at more difficult courses in order maintain their mantra of providing the toughest test in golf?
By John Ledesma and Joe Passov
Thursday, May 24, 2018

As you've likely heard, the USGA is changing its playoff format for the U.S. Open, from a full 18-hole slugfest into a two-hole aggregate haymaker. If players are tied after that, it's sudden death TKO. Organization honcho Mike Davis has said that the reason for the switch is a collective desire for a Sunday finish. (Quaint side note: the USGA used to never play on Sundays because that was when members had their games.)

So we were wondering: What would the USGA record book look like if this format had been in place since the inaugural 1895 18-holer? Turns out almost half of the 33 playoffs would have produced a different champ. Here's the tale of the tape.

1901 Myopia Hunt Club

PLAYOFF Willie Anderson and Alex Smith
ORIGINAL WINNER Anderson
NEW FORMAT WINNER Smith
TOTAL SCORE 331
PLAYOFF STROKES
Anderson: 5/5/4/5
Smith: 5/5/4/4

Alex Smith fumbled away the playoff, going six over on the final seven playoff holes. Had they played under today's rules, Smith's par on No. 4 would've won him the title. He did get the job done in 1906 and 1910. As it was, Anderson bagged his first of four Opens.

1913 The Country Club

PLAYOFF Francis Ouimet, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray
ORIGINAL WINNER Ouimet
NEW FORMAT WINNER Vardon
TOTAL SCORE 304
PLAYOFF STROKES
Ray: 5/4/5/4/5/4
Ouimet: 5/4/4/4/5/4
Vardon: 5/4/4/4/5/3

Nearly the Greatest Game Never Played. Vardon would've vanquished the amateur with a bird on the sixth playoff hole.

1923 Inwood C.C.

PLAYOFF Bobby Jones and Bobby Cruickshank
ORIGINAL WINNER Jones
NEW FORMAT WINNER Cruickshank
TOTAL SCORE 296
PLAYOFF STROKES
Jones: 4/4/5
Cruickshank: 5/3/4

A tale of two Bobbies. Jones would've had to wait for his first of four titles. Cruickshank never actually won.

1925 Worcester C.C.

PLAYOFF Willie Macfarlane and Bobby Jones
ORIGINAL WINNER Macfarlane
NEW FORMAT WINNER Jones
TOTAL SCORE 291
PLAYOFF STROKES
Macfarlane: 4/6
Jones: 4/5

This one would've been Jones's first U.S. Open win.

Al Espinosa looks on as Bobby Jones is presented with the U.S. Open trophy in 1929. Though Espinosa was beaten by 23 shots over 18 holes in the playoff against Jones, he would have won the championship under the new playoff rules.

Bettmann/Getty

1928 Olympia Fields C.C.

PLAYOFF Johnny Farrell and Bobby Jones
ORIGINAL WINNER Farrell
NEW FORMAT WINNER Jones
TOTAL SCORE 294
PLAYOFF STROKES
Farrell: 5/5
Jones: 4/5

This one would've been Jones's second.

1929 Winged Foot G.C.

PLAYOFF Bobby Jones and Al Espinosa
ORIGINAL WINNER Jones
NEW FORMAT WINNER Espinosa
TOTAL SCORE 294
PLAYOFF STROKES
Jones: 6/4
Espinosa: 4/5

Bobby would have to give another one back here. Don't worry, he still totals four wins in the Open (he won 1930 in regulation); tied for most with Willie Anderson, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus.

1931 Inverness Club

PLAYOFF Billy Burke and George Von Elm
ORIGINAL WINNER Burke
NEW FORMAT WINNER Von Elm
TOTAL SCORE 292
PLAYOFF STROKES
Burke: 4/5
Von Elm: 4/3

Burke and Von Elm went 72 holes of regulation, then, in the playoff, 72 more. Two tournaments for the price of one! Von Elm would've ended it after only two extra.

1939 Philadelphia C.C.

PLAYOFF Byron Nelson, Craig Wood, Denny Shute
ORIGINAL WINNER Nelson
NEW FORMAT WINNER Wood
TOTAL SCORE 284
PLAYOFF STROKES
Shute: 4/4/4/4/4
Nelson: 4/3/4/4/5
Wood: 4/3/4/4/4

This one is remembered as much for Sam Snead's 72nd-hole, triple-bogey gift to the field than it is for the playoff finish, which Wood would've won today.

Byron Nelson, Craig Wood and Denny Shute (from left to right) pose with the U.S. Open trophy before embarking on their 18-hole playoff in 1939. Nelson won, but under the new playoff rules, the title would have belonged to Wood.

Bettmann/Getty

1946 Canterbury, G.C.

PLAYOFF Lloyd Mangrum, Vic Ghezzi and Byron Nelson
ORIGINAL WINNER Mangrum
NEW FORMAT WINNER Nelson
TOTAL SCORE 284
PLAYOFF STROKES
Mangrum: 4/4
Ghezzi: 4/4
Nelson: 4/3

Since Lord Byron would've had to give back the '39 title, it's fitting he benefits from the new playoff rules here.

1947 St. Louis C.C.

PLAYOFF Lew Worsham and Sam Snead
ORIGINAL WINNER Worsham
NEW FORMAT WINNER Snead
TOTAL SCORE 282
PLAYOFF STROKES
Worsham: 4/3
Snead: 3/3

Snead's most disheartening runner-up finish would've been a win had today's rules been in place.

1950 Merion G.C.

PLAYOFF Ben Hogan, Lloyd Magnum and George Fazio
ORIGINAL WINNER Hogan
NEW FORMAT WINNER Mangrum
TOTAL SCORE 287
PLAYOFF STROKES
Hogan: 4/5
Fazio: 5/4
Mangrum: 4/4

Mangrum would've finally earned the Open title he had to relinquish in '46, but the golf world would've been denied Hogan's amazing comeback story.

1963 The Country Club

PLAYOFF Julius Boros, Jack Cupit and Arnold Palmer
ORIGINAL WINNER Boros
NEW FORMAT WINNER Cupit
TOTAL SCORE 293
PLAYOFF STROKES
Boros: 4/4
Cupit: 4/3
Palmer: 5/3

Boros used just 23 putts over 18 playoff holes to win. But a steady start from Cupit would've won it earlier.

Under the USGA's new U.S. Open playoff rules, things would have ended differently for Mark Brooks (left) who lost an 18-hole playoff to Retief Goosen at Southern Hills in 2001.

Paul Buck/Getty

1966 Olympic Club

PLAYOFF Billy Casper and Arnold Palmer
ORIGINAL WINNER Casper
NEW FORMAT WINNER Palmer
TOTAL SCORE 278
PLAYOFF STROKES
Casper: 5/4/3/4
Palmer: 5/4/3/3

The King's breakdown in regulation let Casper back in the game. Palmer's birdie on the fourth playoff hole would've earned him a second Open title.

1994 Oakmont C.C.

PLAYOFF Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts
ORIGINAL WINNER Els
NEW FORMAT WINNER Roberts
TOTAL SCORE 279
PLAYOFF STROKES
Els: 5/7
Montgomerie: 4/6
Roberts: 4/5

The Boss of the Moss would've finally won a major if they'd played by today's rules. As it was, Els earns his first.

2001 Southern Hills C.C., Tulsa, Okla.

PLAYOFF Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks
ORIGINAL WINNER Goosen
NEW FORMAT WINNER Brooks
TOTAL SCORE 276
PLAYOFF STROKES
Goosen: 4/4/4
Brooks: 4/4/3

Brooks would've bagged his second major championship (1996 PGA) had they used 2018 rules. Instead, Goosen gets the first of two Opens ('04).

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