What Is The Open Championship Playoff Format?

What happens if it finishes all-square after 72 holes at The 150th Open Championship and a playoff is required? Find out here

St Andrews 18th hole
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What Is The Open Championship Playoff Format?

The 150th Open Championship has been extremely special, with Monday's Celebration of Champions beginning proceedings at the bumper tournament. In the four-hole event, the 1st, 2nd, 17th and 18th were put in play, which also happens to be the selected holes for this year's Open Championship playoff, if we are to go to extra holes on Sunday.

In the event of a tie after four rounds at the Old Course, the winner will be decided in a playoff by stroke play over the 1st, 2nd, 17th and 18th holes, with the playoff starting as soon as practicable after the last competitors have finished their round.

The competitor with the lowest aggregate over the four extra holes will be declared the winner. However, if the players are still tied having played these extra holes, a hole-by-hole playoff will be played immediately over the 18th hole only until a winner emerges.

If the playoff involves more than 2 players, those other than the winner will be deemed to have tied for 2nd place regardless of their scores in the playoff.

Things you didn't know about The Open

There have been some notable playoffs in the past. In 1999, Paul Lawrie won the Open Championship at Carnoustie following a four-hole playoff with Justin Leonard and Jean van de Velde. In the playoff, Lawrie shot even par, while the other two were both three over par.

In 2007 Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a four-hole playoff to win his first Claret Jug - he shot level par compared to Garcia's one over and, just a couple of years later, Stewart Cink triumphed in a playoff over then 59-year-old Tom Watson at Turnberry.

Players walk over the bridge

Zach Johnson secured the Claret Jug in the last ever playoff at St Andrews in 2015

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There have been 21 Open playoffs in all, with the most recent actually coming at St Andrews (opens in new tab) in 2015. During that event, Zach Johnson eventually triumphed over four holes beating Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.

Another interesting point is that officials used a three-hole system in 2019 and 2021, but stated the aggregate number depends on the venue. At St Andrews, that number is four as it works perfectly for the course's routing.

Matt Cradock
Freelance Staff Writer

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.