Notes No Playoff Change at US Open


OAKMONT, Pa. -- The U.S. Open is the last major championship to use an 18-hole playoff, and that's not about to change.
The public, television viewers and volunteers were spared a fifth day of the U.S. Open at Oakmont when Jim Furyk took bogey on the 17th hole and Tiger Woods failed to birdie the 18th, leaving Angel Cabrera with a one-shot victory.
'Given the importance -- not to say the others aren't important -- we're comfortable with 18 holes,' USGA executive director David Fay said. 'We're dug in on this point, resolving it with a complete round of golf.'
The British Open, golf's oldest championship, has used a four-hole playoff the last 20 years. The PGA Championship switched from sudden-death to a three-hole format in 2000, while the Masters continues to use the sudden-death format seen at regular tour events.
The U.S. Women's Open had an 18-hole playoff last year at Newport between Annika Sorenstam and Pat Hurst that was sparsely attended and packed as much drama as a rerun on The Food Channel. The USGA changed it this year to a three-hole playoff, and some thought that meant the men's tournament also would change.
Why is three holes good enough for the women but not the men?
'It's a very good question and I don't have a snap answer,' Fay said. 'We discussed the women's issue and voted differently on it.'
'Because of the severity of the golf course, someone can come from way off, finish his round early and suddenly you have these train wrecks out there. We really want people to start with a clean slate,' he said.
The choice of a playoff format is subjective.
If the USGA wants a full test, why does it allow sudden-death when the 18-hole playoff ends in a tie, as happened with Ernie Els and Loren Roberts in 1994 at Oakmont.
And what constitutes a full test? In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the U.S. Open playoff was 36 holes, and when Billy Burke and George Von Elm tied in 1931, they came back the next day for 36 more holes. Burke won by one shot, and it remains the longest major in history (144 holes).
When Angel Cabrera became the first Argentine to win a major in 40 years, Robert De Vicenzo was cheering him on.
De Vicenzo won the 1967 British Open at Hoylake. Now 84, he watched from home every day as Cabrera took the U.S. Open.
'Cabrera is now a hero in Argentina,' De Vicenzo said. 'He's my hero. I'm very happy for him, because I didn't want to leave this world before I saw something like this.'
There were some similarities between the two Argentine majors. De Vicenzo had to hold off Jack Nicklaus in the final round at Royal Liverpool, whole Cabrera held off Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk.
'The biggest different is that when he won the U.S. Open, many more people saw it on television,' De Vicenzo said. 'When I won the British Open 40 years ago not as many saw it. Millions saw Cabrera win.'
The USGA says scores are irrelevant as it tries to provide the toughest test in golf, but one thing has been made perfectly clear recently -- par is a tough score to find.
For the second straight year, the winner finished at 5-over 285. The last time a score of at least 5 over won the U.S. Open in consecutive years was in 1950-51, when Ben Hogan won at Merion and Oakland Hills.
And it was the third straight year no one broke par over 72 holes at the U.S. Open (Michael Campbell won in '05 at even par), the longest streak since six straight U.S. Opens from 1954 to 1959.
Some other tidbits:
  • Cabrera had two of the eight sub-par rounds at Oakmont, but his 76 in the third round made him the first U.S. Open champion with a 76 or higher since Johnny Miller in 1973 in the third round at Oakmont.
  • It was the highest winning score at Oakmont since Sam Parks Jr. had a 299 in 1935.
  • Cabrera's victory means Americans cannot make a sweep of the majors. The last time they won all four was in 1982.
    Halfway through the PGA TOUR season, it might be time to sound warning bells for Chris DiMarco.
    Barring a quick turnaround, the guy who holed the winning putt at the Presidents Cup two years ago can forget about playing for captain Jack Nicklaus at Royal Montreal. He is 32nd in the standings, and it would be hard to imagine Nicklaus taking someone as a captain's pick who hasn't finished in the top 10 all year.
    But look before and beyond the Presidents Cup.
    He is 113th in the FedEx Cup, meaning he might not be eligible for only the Barclays Championship. And that could mean playing in the fall to keep his card, for DiMarco has no other exemption available to him except for taking a one-time exemption for being in the top 50 in career money. He is 102nd on the money list.
    DiMarco has only one top 10 in a stroke-play event since 2005, his runner-up finish at the British Open last summer at Hoylake.
    Five players have recorded top 10s in both majors this year, down from 10 at this point last year. The five are Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, David Toms, Paul Casey and Jerry Kelly, who until this year had never finished in the top 10 at any major. ... Woods earned $611,336 for his runner-up finish at Oakmont, pushing his career earnings over $70 million. ... Another Singh is headed for the Hall of Fame. Jeev Milkha Singh -- no relation to Vijay Singh -- found out recently that he will be inducted this fall to the Sports Hall of Fame at Abilene Christian University in west Texas. Singh led the Wildcats to the NCAA Division II title in 1993, winning the individual title. ... The Royal & Ancient received 2,425 entries for the British Open at Carnoustie, down from three last year when it was at Royal Liverpool.
    For the first time since 1956, no one broke par at either the Masters or the U.S. Open.
    'They both stink.' -- Jim Furyk, on the difference between finishing second at Winged Foot and Oakmont.
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