With several players battling for the 2018 U.S. Open championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York on Sunday, a playoff is looking like a possibility. Brooks Koepka, last year’s U.S. Open winner, has been trying to hang on to a slim lead throughout the day, while Tommy Fleetwood shot a 63 and moved up to 2-over par, locking down a top score while sitting in the clubhouse.
If the tournament does go to a tiebreaker playoff, there will be new rules in place this year. The United States Golf Association, which oversees the U.S. Open, along with the U.S. Women’s Open, the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, announced the changes in February 2018, according to its website. The USGA implemented a two-hole aggregate playoff in the event of a tie after 72 holes of stroke play. Here’s how it works:
– If the score is tied after 72 holes, a two-hole aggregate playoff would be played on the 17th and 18th holes.
– If the score remains tied after the two playoff holes, the players would immediately continue to play off hole-by-hole in sudden death format, repeating the 17th and 18th holes, until a champion is determined.
The U.S. Open previously held its tiebreaker on Monday, a day after the final round, with an 18-hole format.
“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 CEO/Executive Director Mike Davis said in a statement. “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.”
Davis added, “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 U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open. 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.”
According to the USGA, the U.S. Open has had 33 playoffs that have employed 18- and 36-hole formats. The U.S. Women’s Open finished with a two-hole playoff earlier this month. The last U.S. Open to end in a playoff was in 2008 at Torrey Pines, where Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate on Monday, June 16. Woods and Mediate were still tied after 18 playoff holes, and Woods took home the trophy on a sudden death hole.
Some players apparently weren’t aware of the change. Jordan Spieth was asked about the new playoff rules at a press conference two days before the tournament. He said, “it’s still 18 holes, right,” according to SBNation.com.
When told by a moderator it has shifted to the two-hole aggreagate format, Spieth answered, “Two on Sunday. Either way, I mean, I guess strategy changes a little from an entire round, but I honestly had no idea that it even changed. I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday, thinking, you know, what’s it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff? So shows you what I know.”