The US Open playoff format is different to all the other majors, in that it is the only one that is longer than three holes...
What is the US Open playoff format if, after the regulation 72-holes, we have a tie at the top of the leaderboard?
The answer quite simply is an 18 hole playoff. Assuming the tournament finishes on the Sunday, this would happen on the Monday.
This differs to golf’s other three major championships. At The Masters a sudden death playoff is used to separate the leaders, such as Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, or Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera.
At both The Open Championship and the US PGA Championship, a three hole playoff is the format of choice.
The last time an 18 hole US Open playoff was needed to decide the tournament was in 2008. This famously saw Tiger Woods topple Rocco Mediate, after he’d drained a famous birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie. The 14 time major winner went on to win at the first extra hole after the two men had each shot level par during the 18 hole playoff.
That round in 2008 was only the third time the US Open needed sudden death to decide its winner since a format change in the 1950s.
Speaking on Wednesday at Erin Hills, USGA chief executive Mike Davis confirmed there are no plans to tweak that format.
“I don’t think in the foreseeable future you will see a change in the 18-hole US Open playoff.”
He went on to talk about the 1994 playoff at Oakmont between Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts as an example why the format works.
“What’s interesting is if we had a sudden-death playoff one player would have won, if it’s a three hole playoff another player would have won. But over 18 holes, Ernie Els was the best player that day, and we think there’s something to that.”