Jordan Spieth has spent a lot of time over the past few months trying to turn his putting game back into a strength of his as he’s admittedly neglected his short game in an effort to improve his driving distance and accuracy, so it can be forgiven that the 2015 U.S. Open champion may have missed an announcement or two.
Meeting with the media on Tuesday at Shinnecock Hills, Spieth was caught off guard by a question asking his opinion on the new two-hole aggregate playoff format that will be enacted if necessary this year in his national championship.
“It’s the first I’ve heard of that being an option,” Spieth said, still a bit confused by the question. “It’s still 18 holes, right? Oh, it is two? I didn’t even know.
“I guess strategy changes a little from an entire round, but I honestly had no idea that it even changed. I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday, thinking, you know, what’s it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff? So shows you what I know.”
Jordan Spieth didn't know the USGA changed the 18-hole playoff to a two-hole aggregate.
"I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday."
— Josh Berhow (@Josh_Berhow) June 12, 2018
Spieth famously avoided what would have been the last 18-hole playoff in 2015 at Chambers Bay when Dustin Johnson three-putted the 72nd green to lose by one stroke. Johnson would go on to win the following year’s U.S. Open by three strokes over Jim Furyk, Scott Piercy and Shane Lowry.
The Texan wasn’t alone in his unawareness of the playoff change; Justin Thomas was recently made aware as well.
“I just read about it at lunch,” Thomas said. “I saw about three people say he didn’t know. I’m like ‘well, I’m glad I read this because I didn’t know either.’
“I think it’s good for the U.S. Open and USGA. You’re going to have a lot more people out here on Sunday than on Monday, I would think. If I have a chance to win the U.S. Open, I don’t care if it’s a two-hole playoff or a 72-hole tournament. I’ll take a playoff right now.”
Famously, Tiger Woods was the last player to emerge victorious in an 18-hole playoff for the U.S. Open, and he actually needed 19 holes on Sunday to dispatch of Rocco Mediate in 2008. Woods was on board with the two-hole playoff system for a few of the same reasons Thomas said, but also because his health would have benefitted if the format was changed 10 years ago.
“I understand it because everyone wants to see a result on Sunday,” Woods said. “It’s pretty interesting. We’ve got a sudden death (at the Masters), we’ve got a two-hole (at the U.S. Open), a three-hole (at the PGA Championship) and a four-hole (at the Open Championship). It’s all about just ending it on Sunday night.
“I’m actually very glad that I didn’t have to play any more holes in ’08. I really couldn’t go much further on that Sunday. It’s just interesting because most of my history, and as well as previous to me, they’re all the guys who play in the 18-hole playoff, either after the super Saturday or on a Monday. And so that’s going to be different if it ever happens.
“First of all, we’ve got to see if it happens or not. But I totally understand having a result on Sunday.”