It’s common for two or more players to tie for the lead after 72 holes. Golf’s oldest major has seen eight play-offs since 1995 so it is worth knowing the Open play-off format for when the next one comes around.

The current format has been used since 1985, moving from the old 18n hole play-off format which was used at the US Open until 2018.

The 18 hole play-off format hadn’t been used for 10 years before changing it. The last play-off using that format in 1975 was between Tom Watson and Jack Newton, the American went on to lift his first of five Claret Jugs.

When was the last Open play-off?

The last play-off at The Open was in 2015 when Zach Johnson, Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen when the all finished on 15 under par for the championship.

Jordan Spieth famously came within inches on the 72nd hole to force himself into the play-off with a potential Grand Slam on the line.

open play-off format

Johnson won by one stroke to Oosthuizen and three strokes to Australian Leishman who struggled in the play-off. The American made two birdies, one bogey and parred the 18th to secure his second major championship.

What is the current Open play-off format?

As stated above, the current Open play-off format has been in use since 1985 and the first play-off using the current format was used in 1989, Mark Calcavecchia coming out victorious on that occasion.

The Open uses a four hole aggregate play-off format to determine a winner should two or more players tie for the lead after 72 holes.

This has proven to create fantastic drama over the years, especially at Carnoustie with two out of the three tournaments hosted at the course going to a play-off.

In 1999 Jean Van de Velde famously crumbled, opening the door for Paul Lawrie to lift his one and only major and in 2007 Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia.