British Open Playoffs

Stewart Cink of USA is congratulated by Tom Watson (R) of USA on the 18th green after claiming victory in a play off following the final round of the 138th Open Championship on the Ailsa Course, Turnberry Golf Club on July 19, 2009
Stewart Cink (left) beat Tom Watson (right) in a playoff at the 2009 British Open. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Below is a list of all the playoffs in British Open history. The winner is listed first, followed by other participants. In early years of the tournament, playoffs were 36 holes; 1970 was the year of the first 18-hole playoff. And 1989 was the year of the first playoff using the 4-hole aggregate format.
(Related FAQ: What is the British Open playoff format?)

2015
• Zach Johnson, 3-3-5-4--15
• Louis Oosthuizen, 3-4-5-4--16
• Marc Leishman, 5-4-5-4--18
Johnson took a 1-shot lead over Oosthuizen with a birdie on the second extra hole.

They matched bogeys on the third hole (Leishman was essentially out of it by then). Oosthuizen had a birdie putt to extend the playoff on the last, but just missed.
2015 British Open

2009
• Stewart Cink, 4-3-4-3--14
• Tom Watson, 5-3-7-5--20
This was Tom Watson's second appearance in a British Open playoff - 34 years after his first. He won in 1975 at age 25; he lost this one at age 59. Watson would have been the oldest major champion ever - by far - had he won. And he nearly did in regulation, but Watson bogied the 72nd hole to fall into the playoff against Stewart Cink.
 

2007
• Padraig Harrington, 3-3-4-5--15
• Sergio Garcia, 5-3-4-4--16
Padraig Harrington was six shots behind Sergio Garcia at the start of the final round, took the lead, but then double-bogied the 72nd hole. Garcia had a par putt to win, but missed, leading to the playoff.

2004
• Todd Hamilton, 4-4-3-4--15
• Ernie Els, 4-4-4-4--16
Journeyman Todd Hamilton won the Open title in this 4-hole playoff despite a 72nd-hole bogey.

Ernie Els putted for the championship at that point, but missed.
2004 British Open

2002
• Ernie Els, 4-3-5-4--16 (4)
• Thomas Levet, 4-3-5-4--16 (5)
• Stuart Appleby, 4-3-5-5--17
• Steve Elkington, 5-3-4-5--17
Ernie Els' win came in the first 4-hole playoff at an Open that had to be extended to sudden death because players were still tied.

In this case, it was Els and Thomas Levet who played a fifth hole, and Levet's bogey gave Els the championship.
2002 British Open

1999
• Paul Lawrie, 5-4-3-3--15
• Justin Leonard, 5-4-4-5--18
• Jean Van de Velde, 6-4-3-5--18
This is the Open of Jean Van de Velde's infamous 72nd-hole blow-up at Carnoustie. Van de Velde had a 3-stroke lead at the 72nd, but triple-bogied to fall into the playoff. Van de Velde and Justin Leonard both trailed Paul Lawrie by one stroke after three playoff holes, and Lawrie's birdie on the fourth extra hole sealed his victory. Lawrie started the final day 10 strokes off the lead - the biggest final-day come-from-behind win in PGA Tour history.
 

1998
• Mark O'Meara, 4-4-5-4--17
• Brian Watts, 5-4-5-5--19
1998 British Open

1995
• John Daly, 3-4-4-4--15
• Costantino Rocca, 5-4-7-3--19
This was John Daly's second major championship victory, and the win was secure after Constantino Rocca's 7 on the third playoff hole. Rocca made a spectacular putt to get into the playoff, however. After flubbing a chip shot on the 72nd hole at St. Andrews, Rocca had to putt through the Old Course's infamous "Valley of Sin." That birdie putt traveled across mounding and valleys and up a steep slope and into the hole to force the playoff.


1995 British Open

1989
• Mark Calcavecchia, 4-3-3-3--13
• Wayne Grady, 4-4-4-4--16
• Greg Norman, 3-3-4-x
This was the first British Open in which the 4-hole-aggregate playoff format was used. Greg Norman shot a spectacular 64 to come from seven shots off the lead at the start of the final day, then waited to see if anyone could catch him. Mark Calcavecchia and Wayne Grady did. Grady was solid in the playoff, but Calcavecchia was better. And Norman? He was tied with Calc going to the final playoff hole, but found trouble all the way up the hole. Norman hit into a bunker on his drive, and from there into another bunker; he finally picked up after hitting his third shot over the green and out-of-bounds.
1989 British Open

1975
• Tom Watson, 71
• Jack Newton, 72
This was the last 18-hole Open Championship playoff.

It was also Tom Watson's first of five British Open wins, and the first of his eight career wins in majors. Watson forced the playoff with Jack Newton by making a 20-foot birdie on the 72nd hole.
 

1970
• Jack Nicklaus, 72
• Doug Sanders, 73
Doug Sanders should have won this tournament in regulation, but on the final hole he missed a 2 1/2-foot putt to fall into a tie with Jack Nicklaus. The 18-hole playoff was closely contested throughout, but Nicklaus led by one on the last tee. His drive bounded over the green (358 yards away), and Nicklaus chipped back to eight feet. He then sank the putt to win at St. Andrews, flinging his putter into the air in celebration.
 

1963
• Bob Charles, 69-71--140
• Phil Rodgers, 72-76--148
Bob Charles became the first left-handed golfer to win a major championship with his victory here. It was the last Open playoff contested over 36 holes.
 

1958
• Peter Thomson, 68-71--139
• Dave Thomas, 69-74--143
This was the fourth of Peter Thomson's five Open wins, and his fourth in five years (1954-56, 1958).
 

1949
• Bobby Locke, 67-68--135
• Harry Bradshaw, 74-73--147
Bobby Locke won the first of his four British Open titles here, and the playoff wasn't close. So this tournament is better known for something that happened to Harry Bradshaw in the second round. Following one of his drives, Bradshaw's ball came to rest in the bottom of a broken beer bottle. Apparently not knowing he was entitled to a drop, Bradshaw blasted the ball out of the glass.
 

1933
• Denny Shute, 75-74--149
• Craig Wood, 78-76--154
Craig Wood eventually lost in extra holes at all four professional majors.

This was his first playoff loss at a major.
 

1921
• Jock Hutchison, 74-76--150
• a-Roger Wethered, 77-82--159
Amateur golfer Roger Wethered initially declined to play in the playoff because he had a prior commitment - a cricket match with his club team. He was persuaded to show up for the playoff, but didn't fare well (Wethered's playoff troubles included a penalty for stepping on his golf ball). Wethered was the brother of Joyce Wethered, considered by some the greatest-ever female golfer.
 

1911
Harry Vardon and Arnaud Massy played 34 holes of this playoff, scheduled for 36 holes. But Massy conceded the playoff on the 35th hole, and both players picked up. Yes, procedures were a bit looser in the earlier days of golf.
 

1896
• Harry Vardon, 157
• J.H. Taylor, 161
Harry Vardon's first Open Championship trophy came via this playoff victory over J.H. Taylor. Taylor was going for three wins in a row at the Open; it was the first of Vardon's six wins in this tournament.
 

1889
• Willie Park Jr., 158
• Andrew Kirkaldy, 163
This playoff was 36 holes in duration - same as the tournament itself (played over the 9-hole Musselburgh links - as was the 1883 playoff).

1883
• Willie Fernie, 158
• Bob Ferguson, 159
Bob Ferguson nearly won his fourth British Open title in succession, by fell by one stroke in the playoff. Ferguson led Willie Fernie by one as they teed off the final playoff hole, but Fernie birdied the par-3 hole while Ferguson bogied.

1876
• Bob Martin def. David Strath, walkover.
This "playoff" was literally a walkover because, after David Strath refused to show up for it, Bob Martin walked the Old Course from first tee to 18th green and was declared the winner.

Strath's refusal to play stemmed from his displeasure with the R&A over a ruling on Strath's play of the 17th hole in the final round. If Strath's score stood, then he was tied with Martin. If the R&A ruled against Strath, he would be disqualified and Martin would be the winner. But the R&A declared that the playoff take place before the ruling. Strath thought that ridiculous, since if the ruling went against him the playoff would be unnecessary. So he refused to show up for the playoff.