There's a good chance the 2021 US Open goes to a playoff for the 34th time, and that means the year's third major could see a new playoff format for the first time.
The US Open playoff format is no longer sudden death. Rather, it's a new two-hole aggregate-score playoff, meaning that the competitors will play immediately after regulation ends on Sunday in search of the US Open trophy. If any players in the playoff are tied after two holes, they go to sudden death to determine a winner.
The playoff holes at Torrey Pines Golf Courses' South Course would be the seventh and 18th holes, then going in a loop on Nos. 7, 8 and 18 until a winner is crowned.
Previously, the US Open playoff format was an 18-hole stroke-play contest. The last time the US Open went to an 18-hole playoff was 2008, when Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate on the 19th hole after the pair finished the 18-hole playoff tied. Before that, in 2001, Retief Goosen beat Mark Brooks in a playoff at Southern Hills in Oklahoma. In the history the US Open playoff, there have never been more than three players in the playoff.
The US Open playoff format had been the only one remaining in the four men's major championships that isn't less than 18 scheduled holes. The Masters playoff format is sudden death. The British Open Championship playoff format is a four-hole aggregate playoff. The PGA Championship playoff format is a three-hole aggregate playoff.
The playoff format is the same for the other USGA open championships, including the US Women's Open, US Senior Open and US Senior Women's Open. The 2021 US Women's Open marked the first time a USGA championship to go the two-hole aggregate-score playoff since it was introduced and standardized in 2018.
What's more interesting is that the US Open has seen the most playoffs in major championship history, with 33. That's 12 more than the British Open, which began 30 years sooner.