Playoff Results in the U.S. Senior Open

The U.S. Senior Open, the biggest tournament in men's 50-and-over professional golf, was first played in 1980. Since that time, seven tournaments have ended with a playoff.

The first four of those U.S. Senior Open playoffs were 18 holes. The USGA eventually did away with 18-hole playoffs, however, and switched first to a four-hole, then a three-hole, then a two-hole aggregate-score playoff format. The most-recent playoffs, then, use the aggregate-score format.

Today, the U.S. Senior Open playoff format is two-hole aggregate score, and if still tied the players continue into sudden-death holes.

These are the seven times the U.S. Senior Open ended with a playoff, the participants in each of those playoffs, and the scores:

  • 1981: Arnold Palmer def. Bob Stone and Billy Casper. The first playoff happened in the tournament's second year, and it was an 18-holer. Palmer won his only title in this tournament by scoring 70 to Stone's 74 and Casper's 77. When the tournament debuted one year earlier, the USGA set a minimum age of 55. But they lowered that to 50 in 1981, which allowed Palmer into the field. Probably not a coincidence!

  • 1983: Billy Casper def. Rod Funseth. Casper was a loser in the tournament's first playoff but a winner in the second one. Casper and Funseth both shot 75s. Still tied after 18 holes, they continued into sudden-death holes. And Casper won with a 3 to Funseth's 4 on the first additional hole.

  • 1988: Gary Player def. Bob Charles. Player was the second member of "the Big 3" to win the U.S. Senior Open in a playoff, joining Palmer. In the 18-holer, Player shot 68 to Charles' 70. It was Player's second year in a row winning this tournament.

  • 1991: Jack Nicklaus def. Chi Chi Rodriguez. And Nicklaus completed "the Big 3" troika of playoff wins in 1991. This was the last of the tournament's 18-hole playoffs. Nicklaus beat Rodriguez by four, 65 to 69.

  • 2002: Don Pooley def. Tom Watson. The format for this one was four-hole aggregate. After playing those four holes, Pooley and Watson were still tied. So they continued into sudden-death holes, and on the first one Pooley won with a 3 to Watson's 4.

  • 2014: Colin Montgomerie def. Gene Sauers. The U.S. Senior Open used a three-hole aggregate format this time. Montgomerie won with scores of 5, 3 and 4, a total of 12 strokes. Sauers picked up on the final hole after opening 5-4.
  • 2024: Richard Bland def. Hiroyuki Fujita. The format was 2-hole aggregate this year, but the golfers actually required four holes to settle it. After the 2-hole aggregate they were tied at eight strokes. They matched strokes again on the first sudden-death hole. Finally, on the second sudden-death hole and fourth extra hole overall, Bland won with a 4 to Fujita's 5.
Related articles: Sources:
USGA. U.S. Senior Open Championship 44th Record Book, 2024.
USGA.org. U.S. Senior Open, Fast Facts, https://championships.usga.org/ussenioropen/2024/articles/2024-us-senior-open-fast-facts.html.

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