The British Open Championship became the first of the four major championships to move to an aggregate-score playoff, introducing the four-hole playoff that was introduced in 1986 and first played in 1989 when Mark Calcavecchia won his one and only major title.
However, in 2019, the R&A has changed the British Open Championship playoff format, shortening it from a four-hole aggregate-score playoff to a three-hole aggregate-score playoff. Now the playoffs for the British Open Championship and the PGA Championship are the same length.
The 148th Open will have a three hole play-off 🏌️♂️ If needed that will be the first of its kind 3️⃣
We will play the 1st, 13th & 18th ⛳️ pic.twitter.com/xnW9lcH9Of
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 5, 2019
The change begins at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, where the playoff holes are Nos. 1, 13 and 18. Players in a playoff will complete all three holes, and the player with the lowest total score wins. In the event of a tie between two or more players in a playoff, they'll play in a sudden-death format until the Claret Jug winner is identified.
Before the four-hole playoff was created, the playoff was an 18-hole showdown (then sudden death) from 1964 to 1985. Before that, the playoff was a 36-hole matchup, which frankly now seems barbaric.
Prior to this change, each of the four men's majors had their own playoff formats. The Masters remains a sudden-death playoff, with the USGA moving in 2018 to a two-hole aggregate-score playoff.