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What happens if there is a tie at the US Open? 2024 playoff format

With three shots separating the top four in North Carolina, the US Open could go to a playoff for the first time since 2008.

With three shots separating the top four in North Carolina, the US Open could go to a playoff for the first time since 2008.

It’s tight at top of the 2024 US Open leaderboard heading into the final round at Pinehurst Number 2 in North Carolina. Bryson DeChambeau is at seven under but only three strokes behind him are Patrick Cantlay, Matthieu Pavon, and Rory McIlroy all sitting at four under.

Both DeChambeau and McIlroy are looking for their second major win, which would put them alongside the likes of Walter Hagen, Lee Trevino, Brooks Koepka and Payne Stewart for U.S. Open titles.

US playoff formats: old and new

As is the case heading into the final round of most tournaments, there is every chance that we could see two players (or more) tied at the top of the leaderboard once the 72 holes of regulation play have been completed. So what happens next?

Different tournaments have different playoff formats and even the US Open itself has moved from one format to another in recent years. Up until 2017, players who were tied after four rounds had to come back, usually on Monday, to play another full round. If players still couldn’t be separated, the playoff became sudden death on a hole-by-hole basis.

Prior to the 1950s, however, there was no sudden death, which meant full 18-hole playoffs had to be repeated to find a winner.

How many times has the US Open been decided by a playoff?

The US Open has been decided by a playoff on 33 occasions, the most recently of which came in 2008, when Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate to win the 14th of his 15 majors. That was also one of three instances in which the playoff went beyond five rounds, with Woods beating Mediate on the first hole of sudden death.

Hale Irwin was first to triumph that way against Mike Donald in 1990 (also at the first sudden-death hole), while Ernie Els won on the second hole of sudden death versus Loren Roberts in 1994 after both had competed in the 18-hole playoff with Colin Montgomerie.

What is the current US Open playoff format?

In February 2018, the United States Golf Association revealed that it had moved to change the US Open playoff format after consulting with players, broadcast partners, vendors and fans. The new system is a two-hole aggregate playoff, with the player who has taken the fewest shots to complete the two chosen holes combined running out the winner. If the players takee the same number of shots, the playoff then moves to sudden death.

Which holes will be used for a playoff at Pinehurst No. 2?

The holes selected for the playoff depends on the course but at Pinehurst No. 2, players would go down the par-3 No. 17 and the par-4 No. 18.

We have yet to see a two-hole aggregate playoff since the format change…but there’s a first time for everything.