USGA reverses stance on U.S. Open playoffs, replaces 18-hole format with two-hole aggregate

February 26, 2018

The U.S. Open’s 18-hole Monday playoff is history.

The USGA announced Monday that beginning this year it is instituting a two-hole aggregate playoff in four of its biggest events: the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, Senior Open and Senior Women’s Open. In the event of a tie after the two bonus holes, the playoff format will move to sudden death.

“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 Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “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.”

“Two holes will allow a player to recover from any single mistake,” he continued, “and at the same time, provide a memorable, and perhaps dramatic, experience for all involved.”

This is a stark departure from Davis’s opinion on the 18-hole playoff less than a year ago. During his joint press conference with other USGA executives in June, Davis said he did not “think in the foreseeable future you will see a change the 18-hole playoff.”

He noted how the decision was ultimately not up to him, but rather the USGA Championship Committee, but that he hoped “it doesn’t happen under my watch.”

Fast forward eight months and 12 days and we now live in a non-Monday playoff world, weather and darkness pending. The most recent and final 18-hole playoff was memorably played between Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods in 2008 at Torrey Pines. (Yes, Woods won.)

For those keeping track, all four major championships now have different playoff systems. The Masters operates under a sudden death playoff while the British Open and PGA Championship operate under four-hole and three-hole aggregate playoffs, respectively.

You can find Davis discussing the changes in the video below.