R&A adopt three-hole playoff for Royal Portrush

The R&A have broken from a 40-year tradition to adopt a three-hole play-off should one be required at this year’s 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

The play-off would take place at the par-4 1st hole, the par-3 13th and the par-4 18th.

Royal Portrush Golf Club Royal Portrush Golf Club

If any players are still level after those three holes, the winner of the Claret Jug will be decided by a sudden death play-off.

Since 1989 when American Mark Calcavecchia defeated the Australian duo of Greg Norman and Wayne Grady at Royal Troon, the play-off has been a four-hole aggregate total.

A four-hole play-off was needed in 2007 when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia and more recently, the four-hole play-off was required in 2015 to help American Zach Johnson see off Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen in the Monday-concluding Open at St. Andrews.

That play-off in 2015 was the ninth occasion it had been required since 1989, however before then a playoff was only required in 1975 and also 1970, when they were across 18-holes.

In 1975, Tom Watson beat Australian Jack Newton at Carnousite and then in 1970, the great Jack Nicklaus saw off Doug Sanders, with both championship deciders won by a single shot.

If that seems like a big deal for a play-off, it was only half as long as the previous 36-hole play-offs, which lasted from when Willie Fernie won in 1883 until Bob Charles beat Phil Rodgers in 1963.

The very first Open Championship to end in a tie took place in 1876, but Bob Martin was awarded the trophy when David Strath refused to play.