2015 British Open: Zach Johnson Denies Spieth, Wins It In Playoff

Zach Johnson with the Claret Jug after winning the 2015 British Open
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

The 2015 British Open returned to The Old Course at St. Andrews, and at the Home of Golf, the talk of tournament week was Jordan Spieth. Could Spieth - who already won the Masters and U.S. Open in the months preceding - make it three majors in a row? Almost! But by the end of the tournament, it was Zach Johnson who claimed the Claret Jug following a playoff.

Quick Bits

  • Winner: Zach Johnson, 273 (final scores below)
  • Dates: July 16-20, 2015
  • Golf course: The Old Course at St. Andrews
  • Open championship number: This was the 144th time the Open Championship was played.

Spieth Focus of Attention at 2015 British Open

Zach Johnson survived a 4-hole, aggregate-score playoff against Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman to win the 2015 British Open. But Jordan Spieth dominated the pre-tournament talk and was the focus of attention for most of the tournament itself.

Why? Because Spieth had already won the 2015 Masters and 2015 U.S. Open. He was trying to win his third major of the year and keep the Grand Slam dream alive.

That dream was alive right up until the 72nd hole of the Open. Spieth tied for the lead with a birdie on the 16th hole in the final round, but then bogeyed No. 17 to drop one behind. Still, he had a birdie putt on the 18th hole to get into the playoff. It slid just past the edge of the cup, and Spieth wound up tied for fourth place, one stroke out of the playoff.

How Johnson Claimed the Claret Jug

Both Johnson and Oosthuizen were going for their second wins in majors. Johnson previously won the 2007 Masters, and Oosthuizen was the 2010 British Open champ. This was the second time Oosthuizen lost in a playoff at a major, too; he lost to Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters.

Oosthuizen was the co-leader after 54 holes with Jason Day and amateur Paul Dunne at 12-under. Spieth was in second, one behind; Johnson and Leishman were among a group three back at 9-under.

Johnson got off to a very hot start on the final day, a Monday (just the second Monday-finish in Open Championship history due to rains and high winds earlier in the tournament) shooting 31 on the front nine. He birdied seven of his first 12 holes.

When Johnson, playing several groups ahead of Spieth's group and Oosthuizen's group, got to the 72nd green, he rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt to post a final score of 15-under 273.

At the time, that was one behind Leishman's on-course lead of 16-under, but Leishman soon bogeyed the 16th. When he parred Nos. 17 and 18, he and Johnson were tied at 15-under and waiting to see if anyone could beat them.

Nobody did. Spieth and Day, playing together, both needed birdies on the 18th hole to tie Johnson and Leishman, but both just missed.

Oosthuizen, however, didn't. Stuck on 14-under for the past four holes, Oosthuizen hit a fantastic approach into the 18th green, then sank the birdie putt to make it a 3-way playoff.

Leishman quickly became a non-factor in the playoff, but Oosthuizen and Johnson started with birdies.

Johnson took a 1-shot lead with another birdie on the second extra hole and maintained that lead following the third hole. On the final playoff hole, Oosthuizen again had a birdie putt to tie (and extend the playoff) on the 18th green, but this time he missed, giving Johnson the Claret Jug.

Amateurs Played Great at 2015 Open

The 2015 British Open was a great one for amateurs. Dunne was the first amateur since Bobby Jones in 1927 to hold or share the 54-hole lead. He shot 78 in the final round, however, falling out of the Top 20 final standings.

But Jordan Niebrugge finished tied for sixth as low amateur, and amateurs Oliver Schniederjans and Ashley Chesters also finished inside the Top 20.

Final Scores in the 2015 Open Championship

Here are the final scores from the 2015 British Open, played at The Old Course (par-72) in St.

Andrews, Scotland (a-amateur; x-won playoff):

x-Zach Johnson66-71-70-66--273$1,794,690
Louis Oosthuizen67-70-67-69--273$837,262
Marc Leishman70-73-64-66--273$837,262
Jason Day66-71-67-70--274$460,377
Jordan Spieth67-72-66-69--274$460,377
Sergio Garcia70-69-68-70--277$305,878
Justin Rose71-68-68-70--277$305,878
Danny Willett66-69-72-70--277$305,878
a-Jordan Niebrugge67-73-67-70--277 
Adam Scott70-67-70-71--278$216,143
Brooks Koepka71-70-69-68--278$216,143
Luke Donald68-70-73-68--279$162,107
Anthony Wall70-71-68-70--279$162,107
Martin Kaymer71-70-70-68--279$162,107
Brendon Todd71-73-69-66--279$162,107
a-Ollie Schniederjans70-72-70-67--279 
a-Ashley Chesters71-72-67-69--279 
Robert Streb66-71-70-73--280$129,140
Hideki Matsuyama72-66-71-71--280$129,140
Stewart Cink70-71-68-72--281$95,938
Retief Goosen66-72-69-74--281$95,938
Phil Mickelson70-72-70-69--281$95,938
Padraig Harrington72-69-65-75--281$95,938
Greg Owen68-73-71-69--281$95,938
Marcus Fraser74-69-68-70--281$95,938
James Morrison71-71-70-69--281$95,938
Branden Grace69-72-73-67--281$95,938
Russell Henley74-66-72-69--281$95,938
Patrick Reed72-70-67-72--281$95,938
a-Paul Dunne69-69-66-78-282 
Jim Furyk73-71-66-72--282$63,075
Steven Bowditch70-69-69-74--282$63,075
Jimmy Walker72-68-71-71--282$63,075
Ryan Palmer71-71-67-73--282$63,075
Matt Jones68-73-69-72--282$63,075
Billy Horschel73-71-71-67--282$63,075
Rickie Fowler72-71-66-73--282$63,075
Anirban Lahiri69-70-71-72--282$63,075
Andy Sullivan72-71-68-71--282$63,075
Geoff Ogilvy71-68-72-72--283$43,480
John Senden72-72-68-71--283$43,480
Paul Lawrie66-70-74-73--283$43,480
Henrik Stenson73-70-71-69--283$43,480
Webb Simpson70-70-71-72--283$43,480
Francesco Molinari72-71-73-67--283$43,480
Marc Warren68-69-72-74--283$43,480
Rafael Cabrera-Bello71-73-68-71--283$43,480
Scott Arnold71-73-73-66--283$43,480
David Duval72-72-67-73--284$29,227
Jamie Donaldson72-71-71-70--284$29,227
David Howell68-73-73-70--284$29,227
Lee Westwood71-73-69-71--284$29,227
Graeme McDowell72-72-70-70--284$29,227
Hunter Mahan72-72-67-73--284$29,227
Ryan Fox72-69-76-67--284$29,227
Dustin Johnson65-69-75-75--284$29,227
Eddie Pepperell72-70-66-76--284$29,227
Greg Chalmers70-71-69-75--285$24,824
Matt Kuchar71-73-70-71--285$24,824
Jason Dufner73-71-67-74--285$24,824
Kevin Na67-75-70-73--285$24,824
Gary Woodland72-70-71-72--285$24,824
Cameron Tringale71-71-73-70--285$24,824
David Lipsky73-69-70-73--285$24,824
Ernie Els71-73-69-73--286$23,955
Thongchai Jaidee72-71-70-73--286$23,955
a-Romain Langasque69-72-71-74--286 
Charl Schwartzel67-72-69-79--287$23,331
Graham DeLaet71-73-68-75--287$23,331
Ross Fisher71-73-72-71--287$23,331
Bernd Wiesberger72-72-71-72--287$23,331
Richie Ramsay72-71-70-74--287$23,331
Harris English71-72-69-75--287$23,331
Paul Casey70-71-75-72--288$22,551
Brett Rumford71-71-71-75--288$22,551
Ben Martin74-70-67-77--288$22,551
David Lingmerth69-72-70-77--288$22,551
Bernhard Langer74-70-73-72--289$22,082
Mark O'Meara72-72-71-74--289$22,082
Thomas Aiken75-69-72-74--290$21,848


Comings and Goings at the 2015 British Open

There were two significant departures from Open Championship play in 2015:

  • 5-time British Open champ Tom Watson played the Open for the last time.
  • 3-time winner Nick Faldo also played the Open for the final time.

Watson and Faldo both missed the cut.

Another departure of sorts: Defending champion Rory McIlroy, ranked No. 1 in the world at the time, was unable to play the tournament due to an ankle injury. It was the first time since Ben Hogan didn't show up for the 1954 Open that a defending champion failed to play.