What is the British Open playoff format?
Open Championship

What is the British Open Championship playoff format?

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There's a good chance the British Open goes to a playoff in this second-ever Open played outside of Scotland and England, and if it does, it'll extend an already long tournament even more.

The British Open playoff format isn't sudden death. Rather, it's a three-hole aggregate-score playoff, meaning that the competitors will play out the three holes and the lowest combined score will win the Claret Jug. This new British Open Championship playoff format is a change instituted in 2019 by the R&A, moving away from the four-hole playoff that had been first used in 1989 and then used eight more times, most recently in 2015. Marc Calcavecchia won the first four-hole playoff in 1989 for his lone major championship win.

At Royal Portrush in 2019, the playoff holes are Nos. 1, 13 and 18. If, after the three holes are played, any players are tied for the lead, then they'll transition to a sudden-death playoff to determine the British Open.

Four-hole playoffs in British Open Championship history

  • 1989: Mark Calcavecchia def. Greg Norman and Wayne Grady at Royal Troon
  • 1995: John Daly def. Costantino Rocca at St. Andrews
  • 1998: Mark O'Meara def. Brian Watts at Royal Birkdale
  • 1999: Paul Lawrie def. Jean van de Velde and Justin Leonard at Carnoustie
  • 2002: Ernie Els def. Stuart Appleby, Thomas Bjorn and Thomas Levet at Muirfield
  • 2004: Todd Hamilton def. Ernie Els at Royal Troon
  • 2007: Padraig Harrington def. Sergio Garcia at Carnoustie
  • 2009: Stuart Cink def. Tom Watson at Turnberry
  • 2015: Zach Johnson def. Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen at St. Andrews

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