As announced by the USGA on Monday (2/26): "A revised playoff format for all four USGA Open Championships – the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Senior Women’s Open, will take effect in 2018, with each championship implementing a two-hole aggregate playoff in the event of a tie at the end of 72 holes of stroke play."
What are people's thoughts on the new policy?
First, a discussion of removing the 18-hole aggregate format for the U.S. Open (note that the U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Senior Open, and inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open had been using a three-hole aggregate format):
--Pros: (almost) guarantees a Sunday finish; added value/insurance that Sunday ticket holders get to see the conclusion of the tournament; same logic for the majority of television viewers; lower operating costs (assumed USGA perspective)
--Cons: departure from historical precedent (and opens up arguments around comparability of U.S. Open victories); much higher probability of random chance deciding the winner
Second, a discussion of an appropriate substitute: While an argument can be made for a two-hole aggregate format being marginally more equitable than sudden-death, it still imposes undue burden and minimal recovery opportunity in the event of an 'unlucky' break that leads to a high score on the first hole. Maybe the retort is nothing more than "c'est la vie", the better player won. I think the PGA Championship's three-hole aggregate is an adequate baseline, and if the USGA was simply looking to offer a distinct policy from the other majors, maybe they should move the Sunday tee times up to allow for a five-hole or six-hole aggregate.