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New playoff format at U.S. Open goes into effect in 2018

New playoff format at U.S. Open goes into effect in 2018

June 13th, 2018 by Associated Press in Sports Pro

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Jordan Spieth now knows when he's tied for the lead after 72 holes Sunday, his work is not done.

The USGA has changed its playoff format for all its open championships. If the U.S. Open goes to a playoff, it will be a two-hole aggregate playoff (followed by sudden death if still tied), instead of an 18-hole playoff.

Spieth was asked about the two-hole playoff.

"It's the first I've heard of that being an option," he said. "It's still 18 holes, right?"

Wrong.

"I guess the strategy changes a little from an entire round, but I honestly had no idea that it even changed," he said. "I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday, thinking, 'What's it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff?' So shows you what I know."

He wasn't alone.

Justin Thomas was asked about the new format and conceded he wasn't aware it changed to a two-hole aggregate until he was at lunch. It wasn't clear if he read a memo from the USGA or the transcript of Spieth's news conference about four hours earlier.

III

IF YOU BLINKED, you might have missed Justin Thomas' reign atop golf's world ranking.

The PGA champion took the top spot in May. It's gone, with Dustin Johnson's win at Memphis last weekend catapulting him to No. 1, with Thomas just behind.

Of course, a win at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open this week would push Thomas back to the top.

"It didn't affect me, or it wasn't that hard on me because I couldn't do anything about it," Thomas said. "I wasn't playing. I played one tournament and had a good tournament, finished eighth. And D.J. won, so it's not like he didn't play well and didn't earn it or anything. He won a golf tournament and a great tournament. So there's nothing I can be upset about for that."

Thomas could even laugh a bit about the ranking.

"I saw something that was just hysterical on social media," he explained, "how a lot of the times, you know, when teams or players or whatever it is go on long runs, like the last time this happened. I mean, a little biased but often a scenario is last time Tennessee beat Alabama in football, you know, like iPhones weren't alive yet and stuff like that."

So what was Thomas' "last time" moment?

"I saw something so funny yesterday," he said. "It was like the last time that I wasn't ranked No. 1 in the world, and it was like (Alex) Ovechkin didn't have a Stanley Cup and Rickie (Fowler) wasn't engaged. That was it. I thought it was pretty funny, whoever came up with that."

III

FOR ALL THE attention on the short putts Jordan Spieth has missed this year, he still is regarded as one of the best putters in golf. That's the club that effectively won the British Open for him last summer.

Spieth faced a tough question Tuesday, however, when asked if there was someone he regarded as better.

He paused.

"A lot of great putters out here," he said, buying time.

"That's why they're out here," he said, buying even more time.

He finally took the safe way out by saying that no single players come to mind, though he made it clear his confidence isn't shaken on the greens.

"I'd still like to bet on myself, if I can," he said.

Spieth said he prefers to think about who makes putts in big moments, and whether the ball is holed with the right speed and right break. He has made plenty of those, not only at Royal Birkdale last summer but at Chambers Bay on the par-3 16th and even at the Tour Championship in 2015 when he won the FedEx Cup.

And he hasn't forgotten Tiger Woods.

"Nobody's done that better in the last 20 years than Tiger as far as clutch putting goes," he said.

III

JASON DAY HAS learned life in a motor home can be rewarding on the PGA Tour. He also has learned it can be messy when Bubba Watson is around.

Day is staying in what he calls "the bus" in a parking area close to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open. He uses the RV for about 15 tournaments a season, and several other tour golfers have joined him.

One is Watson.

"Bubba just got one this year, and I'm very kind of more private, and he's, yeah, he's a little bit more outgoing," Day recalled, a wide smile on his face. "And I think we're at Augusta, and he walks under my bus, and he's like, 'Hey, man, what are you doing?'

"I'm just sitting in the bus watching TV. He's like OK. And he's standing there. And I'm like, do you want to come inside? And he's eating a burrito, and he decides to come in and talk to me for about 30 minutes. He gets his burrito all over the ground and then just leaves.

"Actually, it's nice to have people like that around, you know, to mess your bus up when you need them to."