Here's what you need to know should The Open go to extra holes

It’s been a while since The Open went to extra holes – and we wait to see if that will be the outcome this year. But, in case it happens, here is The Open play-off format…

The Open play-off format

The format for the play-off that could take place at Royal St George’s is really straightforward.

The players that finish in a tie for the lead will head back onto the course to play a three-hole aggregate play-off. The player with the lowest aggregate score in the three additional holes will be crowned Champion Golfer of the Year.

If the competitors remain tied after the regulation play-off, those remaining will play sudden death until we have a champion.

The previous play-off format, from 1989 to 2019, was a four-hole play-off.

Which holes will be used?

Good question. The R&A are yet to announce it which holes will be used for the 2021 Open play-off format. It will almost certainly end on 18, though.

Anything else?

All players involved in the play-off that fail to win, regardless of how they get on in the extra holes, will finish in a tie for second.

When was the last time we had an Open play-off?

There have been 21 play-offs in Open history – with a quarter of them in this century, and the last time was at St Andrews in 2015 when Zach Johnson eased out Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.

The past couple of decades have seen some infamous play-off battles at The Open. Who can forget Stewart Cink seeing off then 59-year-old Tom Watson at Turnberry in 2009? Or Paul Lawrie’s spectacular 4-iron at Carnoustie in 1999 to beat Justin Leonard and Jean van de Velde following the Frenchman’s spectacular meltdown at the 72nd?

1876: Bob Martin beat Davie Strath
1883: Willie Fernie beat Bob Ferguson
1889: Willie Park Jr beat Andrew Kirkaldy
1896: Harry Vardon beat JH Taylor
1911: Harry Vardon beat Arnaud Massy
1921: Jock Hutchison beat Roger Wethered
1933: Denny Shute beat Craig Wood
1949: Bobby Locke beat Harry Bradshaw
1958: Peter Thomson beat Dave Thomas
1963: Bob Charles beat Phil Rodgers
1970: Jack Nicklaus beat Doug Sanders
1975: Tom Watson beat Jack Newton
1989: Mark Calcavecchia beat Wayne Grady and Greg Norman
1995: John Daly beat Costantino Rocca
1998: Mark O’Meara beat Brian Watts
1999: Paul Lawrie beat Justin Leonard and Jean van de Velde
2002: Ernie Els beat Stuart Appleby, Steve Elkington and Thomas Levet
2004: Todd Hamilton beat Ernie Els
2007: Padraig Harrington beat Sergio Garcia
2009: Stewart Cink beat Tom Watson
2015: Zach Johnson beat Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen

How would you like to be part of Open history?

the open

The R&A has announced details of how you can get tickets for the historic 150th Open Championship at St Andrews in 2022. Click here to find out more.

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