What is the British Open playoff format?
Open Championship

What is the British Open Championship playoff format? Previous playoffs explained

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There's a good chance the British Open goes to a playoff, and if it does, it'll extend the final men's major championship of the calendar year by at least three more holes.

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. The PGA Championship shares the same three-hole, aggregate-score playoff format -- the longest playoff format in modern major championship golf.

Marc Calcavecchia won the first four-hole playoff in British Open history in 1989 for his lone major championship win.

The three-hole mix for a potential playoff at the British Open Championship changes by year because the tournament moves around from course to course. The R&A looks to select holes relatively close to one another and the 18th hole to determine a champion.

At Royal Troon in 2024, 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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