Sports Outside the Beltway

US Women’s Golf Open goes to 3-hole playoff

The USGA announced a change in how they run the US Women’s Golf Open.

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Women’s Open will use a three-hole playoff format starting this year, leaving the U.S. Open as the only major championship with an 18-hole playoff.

“This makes sense for the players, fans, volunteers, vendors, the general media and our broadcast partners regarding the Women’s Open,” USGA president Walter Driver said Friday.

Annika Sorenstam defeated Pat Hurst in an 18-hole playoff last year at Newport Country Club, the 10th time a Women’s Open had been decided that way in its 61-year history. Because of fog delays earlier in the week, Sorenstam and Hurst wound up playing 36 holes together on Sunday, then 18 holes in the Monday playoff.

The playoff was broadcast on cable, and the crowd was sparse.

Sorenstam lobbied for a three-hole aggregate playoff — similar to the PGA Championship, British Open and the U.S. Senior Open — after easily beating Hurst in the playoff.

“I think maybe a three-hole playoff would have been a little better, especially when all the excitement and adrenaline was there last night with all the people,” Sorenstam said after shooting 70 to beat Hurst by four shots. “You would think that you could determine a winner within 75 holes.”

The U.S. Senior Open changed from 18 holes to a three-hole playoff in 1999.

The USGA, at its annual meeting in San Francisco, said it did not plan to change the 18-hole playoff still used for the men’s U.S. Open. The most recent playoff was when Retief Goosen beat Mark Brooks in 2001 at Southern Hills.

This change is long overdue. The 18-hole playoff is an outdated, television viewers and spectators in person want to see the tournament on Sunday. All the other Women’s major championships have done away with the format also.

Which leaves the US Men’s Open as the last holdout. Why not change that to a 3-hole playoff also? The USGA’s choice to leave it be makes little sense. All their other Open Championships have switched and if the Men’s Open is tied at the end of 18 holes, they then go to sudden death! It is time to give up this screwball policy.

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