Women's U.S. Open moves to three-hole playoff, but men shouldn't wimp out
The USGA has decided it doesn’t want four-plus hours of exclusive Pat Hurst on TV. Beginning in this year’s Women’s U.S. Open, the tournament will stage a same-day, three-hole playoff if necessary and rid the 18-hole marathon held on Mondays.
The decision came after nobody watched the extra session on a work day. However the men’s Open will continue to use the additional 18-hole format.
The Senior Open went to a three-hole format in 1999. The PGA Championship has a similar three-hole playoff and the British Open has a four-hole format. The Masters holds a sudden-death playoff beginning on the 18th.
So the question is, what is the USGA waiting for with the men? The last U.S. Open playoff came in 2001, when Retief Goosen beat Mark Brooks at Southern Hills. In 2006, a playoff seemed inconceivable, inevitable and incomprehensible in the span of about fifteen minutes at Winged Foot. Had Lefty or Monty survived the 18th to force a playoff versus Geoff Olgilvy, TV audiences surely would have been at their peak on Sunday evening. And what spectators would have been able to get an extra day on the course and away from their jobs or families?
Going to a three-hole format would make sense. But since when does the U.S. Open make any? Not lately. They make venues inhumanely difficult and force once classic American golf clubs to blow their courses up to be longer and harder. With the exception of Bethpage Black, Pinehurst (and Pebble Beach, sort of), Open venues aren’t “open” at all.
So I say stick to the 18-hole playoff. It fits right in with the tournament’s tradition of absurdness.
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