Has the US Open got it right with its two-hole play-off?

The Scoop

In The Niggle our team discuss the US Open's changed in play-off format and other random observations about playing extra holes

Mark Townsend: The US Open, and the other USGA events, will now be decided by a two-hole play-off instead of 18 holes on Monday.

So Tiger Woods writes his name into the history books again as the last player to win a US Open play-off and we have the Masters having sudden death, the Open at four holes, the PGA Championship with three holes and now two for the US Open.

Which one do we like the most?

Alex Perry: Sudden death for me. I just want it done. Two holes seem a bit pointless. If someone birdies the 1st and his opponent double bogeys, the 2nd hole is basically a procession. At least with a 3- or 4-hole play-off there is time to recover.

Essentially any play-off that drags on too long is rubbish, except when it’s sudden death, then it can go on forever for all I care.

Mark Townsend: Four holes always seems a bit long and I struggle to recall the details of it in the years to come and I hate sudden death for a major, it’s all too edgy. Then again Harrington and Garcia was a pearler. I think two or three is ideal though two has thrown me a bit having never seen it before

Steve Carroll: I think it’s a shame. There were some absolute classic US Open play-offs. Mediate vs Woods was epic.

James Savage: Three-hole aggregate feels about right. And then into sudden death after that if still level. Carnoustie 1999 sticks in my mind as pure calamitous drama.

Carnoustie 1999

Alex Perry: I have no beef with the 18-hole play-off system – but it is better to be done on the Sunday. The whole coming back the next day, hardly any fans, no-one can watch it because we’re all at work and so on seems a bit old fashioned.

Plus if I was working there I’d be fuming.

James Savage: The only benefit is they can tee off in the morning US time and we can watch it all without staying up until the small hours.

Mark Townsend: What about the romance of thousands bunking off school and work to be there? Nice 10am tee time, 10,000 all following one group, drop the ropes and let them walk the fairways. It would be amazing.

Alex Perry: That would be amazing but they wouldn’t do it.

Mark Townsend: No, pity. The 18th doesn’t seem right for Augusta’s play-off. Which hole would you like to see used?

James Savage: I’d like to see 16.

Steve Carroll: Augusta play-off holes should always be on 11, moving to 12 and then 13 if required.

Mark Townsend: Augusta would be great if they could shunt everyone out to 15 but that will never happen. I like the old days of 10 then 11, the 18th is pretty unspectacular these days.

Alex Perry: Par 3 holes tend to be the most dramatic. It would never happen or work unless 18 was a par 3 but just play that over and over until there is a winner.

Mark Townsend: Par 3? To win a major? No sir. Having now thought this through I’d take it back to its roots and install a 36-hole play-off. What about a reachable par 5?

James Savage: Reachable par 4. Now we’re talking.

Sawgrass

Alex Perry: Sawgrass 17th is the perfect play-off hole, no? Just the golfers and a target.

James Savage: Yes. Or 16 at Augusta. Or the 10th at The Belfry.

Alex Perry: There you go. Anyone who finishes tied 1st at the US Open must head to Sawgrass for a Monday sudden-death play-off. Glad we sorted it lads. Where’s my brown envelope?

James Savage: Would take a while for all the spectators to get there. That’s a lot of filling for Dave and Monty.

Alex Perry: In which case just have the whole Sky team play it on the old shot centre thingy.

James Savage: Maybe instead of a play-off you just have to take on Denis Pugh in the Shot Centre? I’m beginning to think you haven’t thought this through.

Alex Perry: I’m less confident, I’ll admit. Stare off with Butch?

Mark Townsend: I’d take my chances against Simon Holmes. Favourite major play-off?

Steve Carroll: Daly’s Open in 95 was pretty good.

John Daly

Mark Townsend: I thought Woods-Mediate was the best play-off I’ve ever watched followed by the Els-Monty-Roberts one so maybe 18 is the way forward.

If, in a different life, you were part of a major play-off and you posted an early score, how would you fill your time? Hit balls on the range or lounge about watching a TV monitor? I’d be beating balls.

Steve Carroll: I’d commit to beating balls but would end up raiding hospitality instead.

Mark Townsend: What would you eat if you had an hour until your rival finished?

James Savage: Burger and a pint, followed by another pint. Unless I have to pay. Then I’ll just have some tap water and hope for some free nuts or something.

Steve Carroll: You’re a top pro. You pay for nothing. The burgers can be like wedges. You take one bite and someone brings you a new one.

James Savage: I’m not taking my chances, especially in America. Probably a 50 per cent pre play-off service charge.

Mark Townsend: At the Open you supposedly get two ‘credit cards’ for food etc. I would be on site at 6am for a Full English and last off the property after eating too many steaks.

Alex Perry: Whatever is left in my bag. So probably a Kit Kat and half of one of those flapjacks that you see in pro shops but nowhere else on the planet.

The Masters driving range

Mark Townsend: Last one, which player would you least like to play off against?

Alex Perry: I mean, literally anyone in the top 1,000 of the world rankings. At my level anyone who is just solid tee to green. Because I’m not.

James Savage: Someone mentally strong like Jordan Spieth would be a tough play-off opponent. I could probably unsettle DJ.

Mark Townsend: I’ll go with Pepperell as I’d probably want him to win.

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