What Is The US Open Playoff Format?

The US Open playoff format was changed recently. Here's everything you need to know

The US Open trophy at The Country Club, Brookline
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For the first time in the tournament's history, the US Open is being held at Los Angeles Country Club and, on Sunday, a two-horse race between Wyndham Clark and Rory McIlroy began to develop over the back nine, with the pair multiple shots ahead of the chasing pack.

With such a close battle taking place, a playoff is certainly on the cards and, in this piece, we take a look at what the playoff format is for the US Open, with the format slightly different to PGA Tour events and other Major championships

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Famously, the USGA used to determine the winner via an 18-hole playoff the following day, which last happened in 2008 when Tiger Woods needed 19 extra holes to defeat Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines. It was an impractical solution for all involved, however, and was scrapped in 2018.

Rocco Mediate shakes Tiger Woods' hand before the 2008 US Open playoff at Torrey Pines

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So, in the event of a tie at the end of the regulation 72 holes in 2023, a two-hole aggregate playoff will take place on Sunday evening in Hollywood. Players will head back to the first and 18th with all eyes on them and America's national championship up for grabs. If they still can't be separated after two extra holes, it then becomes a sudden death playoff until someone prevails.

As for the holes selected for the playoff, they could deliver plenty of drama. The first is a classic George Thomas opener. It's a straight 578-yard par-5 that represents an excellent birdie chance to ease players into the round. However, in contrast, the final hole is a demanding 492-yard par-4 that doglegs slightly left and promises to provide a stern challenge. 

If we do have a playoff, it'll be the first since the two-hole aggregate format was introduced. In fact, that epic duel between Woods and Mediate was the most recent US Open playoff, one of 33 in the tournament's 128-year history. The US Open is also the only Major that uses this format. 

The Masters goes straight to sudden death, the PGA Championship features a three-hole playoff, while four extra holes are the norm at The Open.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.