British Open 101

British Open 2023: Frequently Asked Questions


Cameron Smith celebrates winnin the 2022 Open Championship.

Richard Heathcote/R&A

For almost 40 years—from 1967 through 2006—the Open Championship did not return to Royal Liverpool. Well, it came back in roaring fashion with a monumental Tiger Woods victory in 2006 and a Rory McIlroy major win eight years later. Now, nine years after the Northern Irishman’s Hoylake triumph, the best golfers in the world will head to the Lancashire coast for another iteration of a Royal Liverpool Open Championship.

There are certainly quite a few storylines that will accompany the golf from the PGA Tour-PIF partnership to the murky future of LIV golf, but the focus (of course) will be on the best in the world vying for a major. Can Rory McIlroy defend at Royal Liverpool? Can Cam Smith take home another claret jug? Will Tyrrell Hatton like the course? We don’t know the answers to those questions just yet. But, here’s what we do know heading into the Open.

To get you ready for the major, we offer this British Open primer, answering some of the frequently asked questions about golf's oldest major championship.

When is the Open Championship played?

With the PGA Tour schedule having been re-arranged in 2019, the Open Championship is now the year’s final men's major. It is still, however, played in mid-July. This year, it will be held July 20-23.

Who conducts the Open Championship?

The R&A conducts the championship.

Is the British Open the same as the Open Championship?

Well, yes. Kind of. It depends on who you ask. In the United States and other parts of the world, the tournament is often referred to as the British Open to help distinguish the championship from Opens in other countries. However, the official name of the tournament is The Open Championship.

When and where was the first Open Championship? And who won?

The first Open Championship was played in 1860 at Prestwick in South Ayrshire, Scotland. It was a one-day, 36-hole competition. Willie Park Sr., won by two strokes with a total score of 174.

What is the format of the Open Championship? How many players are in the field?

The Open Championship is a four-round, 72-hole stroke-play competition, with a cut after 36 holes. There are 156 players in the field.

If players are tied after 72 holes, how is the winner determined?

The Open Championship uses a four-hole aggregate playoff if players are tied at the end of four rounds. If players are still tied after four holes, they play sudden death until a winner is determined. It’s not the only major to use the aggregate format in the event of a tie—the PGA Championship uses a three-hole aggregate playoff and the U.S. Open made the switch from an 18-hole playoff to a two-hole aggregate in 2018.

Since 2000, there have been four playoffs at the Open, the most recent occurring in 2015 at the Old Course when Zach Johnson defeated Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman to claim his second career major title.

Where is the Open Championship being held in 2023?

The 151st Open Championship will take place at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England. This will be the 13th edition of this vaunted major at Hoylake with the last two coming in 2014 and 2006. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods won those two, respectively. The single 18-hole course is a seaside links and was also the locale for the second leg of Bobby Jones' historic 1930 Grand Slam.

Who won the 2022 Open Championship?

A down-to-the-wire 150th Open at the St. Andrews Old Course concluded with a Cameron Smith victory and a missed opportunity for McIlroy. The two went mano-a-mano on Sunday with Smith’s 64 besting McIlroy’s 70. The Northern Irishman didn’t even finish second, however, as Cameron Young slipped through the cracks with an eagle on the final hole. Not long after, Smith left for LIV Golf.

Who has won the most Open Championships?

Harry Vardon holds the record for most victories at the Open Championship with six. Four golfers have won the Open five times: James Braid, J.H. Taylor, Peter Thomson and Tom Watson.

How can you qualify for the Open Championship?

There are several ways players can qualify for the Open Championship, including through the Open Qualifying Series and Final Qualifying, which you can learn more about here.

Click here for the most up-to-date field list for the 2023 Open Championship


Richard Heathcote/R&A

Will Tiger Woods be playing in this year's Open Championship?

No, Tiger Woods will not be playing in the 151st Open. He officially announced that he won’t be competing n this event back in June, but it was quite the long shot after his right ankle fusion surgery back in April. “We have been advised that Tiger will not be playing at Royal Liverpool. We wish him all the best with his recovery,” an R&A spokesman said. Woods has won three Open Championships, with the first coming in 2000 and then a back-to-back run in 2005 and 2006.

Will Phil Mickelson be playing in this year's Open Championship?


Rob Carr

Yes, despite all the LIV Golf drama, Lefty will be in the field at Hoylake, earning an exemption as a past champion under the age of 60. He claimed his lone Open Championship in 2013 at Muirfield, shooting a Sunday 66 to win by three over Henrik Stenson. For 2023, all LIV golfers are still eligible to compete in the Open, provided they earned exemptions.

What other sites host the Open Championship?

The Open Championship is the only major that uses a rotation or “rota” of courses in the United Kingdom. There are currently 10 courses in the rota. Five of them are in Scotland: Carnoustie, St. Andrews, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield. The other four are in England: Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool, Royal St. George’s and Royal Lytham. Northern Ireland's Royal Portrush, where the Open was played in 2019, is the most recent course to join the rota.

Which country has hosted the most Open Championships?

Scotland has hosted the most, with 97 Open Championships (soon to be 98).

How many players make the 36-hole cut?

The top 70 players and ties make the cut at the Open Championship.

Who is the oldest winner of the Open Championship?

Old Tom Morris is the oldest, winning the Open Championship in 1867 at Prestwick at age 46.


Old and Young Tom Morris, circa 1860s

Print Collector

The youngest?

Young Tom Morris is the youngest, winning the Open Championship the following year in 1868 at Prestwick at age 17. He also holds the record for most consecutive victories (four), winning the next three in a row after his first.

What is the lowest round shot in the Open Championship?

Ten players held the record of 63 up until six years ago at Royal Birkdale, when South Africa's Branden Grace set a new record for all major championships, carding a third-round eight-under 62.

What is the lowest round in relation to par in Open Championship history?

McElroy and Paul Broadhurst hold the record for lowest rounds in relation to par, with Broadhurst carding a nine-under 63 in the third round of the 1990 Open at St. Andrews. McIlroy's nine-under 63 also came at St. Andrews in the first round of the 2010 Open.

What is the 72-hole scoring record? And the record in relation to par?

Henrik Stenson set both records in 2016 at Royal Troon, with 264 strokes and 20 under par.


Henrik Stenson caps off his record-breaking 2016 Open win at Royal Troon.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

What is the largest margin of victory?

The largest margin of victory in an Open Championship came in 1862 at Prestwick when Old Tom Morris won by 13 strokes while the event was still contested over 36 holes.

The largest margin since World War II is eight strokes by Tiger Woods over Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els during the 2000 Open at St. Andrews.

What is the highest winning score in Open Championship history?

The highest winning total came in 1894, when England's J.H. Taylor won with 326 strokes at Royal St. George's.

Has there ever been a wire-to-wire winner of the Open Championship?

There have been seven wire-to-wire winners in Open Championship history. They are: Ted Ray (1912, Muirfield), Bobby Jones (1927, St. Andrews), Gene Sarazen (1932, Prince's), Henry Cotton (1934, Royal St. George's), Tom Weiskopf (1973, Royal Troon), Tiger Woods (2005, St. Andrews) and Rory McIlroy (2014, Royal Liverpool).

Has an amateur ever won the Open Championship?

An amateur has won the Open Championship six times. The list includes: John Ball (1890, Prestwick), Harold Hilton (1892, Muirfield and 1897, Royal Liverpool) and Bobby Jones (1926, Royal Lytham and St. Annes; 1927, St. Andrews; 1930, Royal Liverpool).


American golfer Bobby Jones drives off from the first tee during a practice game on the Old Course at St Andrews.

Topical Press Agency

What is the Silver Medal at the Open Championship?

The Silver Medal is awarded to the leading amateur of the Open Championship, provided he completes all 72 holes. It was not awarded in 2019 at Royal Portrush since no amateurs advanced to the weekend, but in 2022 it was awarded to Italy’s Filippo Celli, who tied for 47th. The 21-year-old (at the time) started his week with a 74 but bounced back in epic fashion with three-straight under-par rounds, including a masterful Friday 67.

How many times has an American won the Open Championship?


Pete Fontaine

Of the 149 Open Championships that have been contested, an American has won 46 of them, the most of any country.

Which country has produced the next most Open Champions?

Scotland has produced the next most with 41 winners, while England has produced 22.

What type of conditions is the Open Championship played in?

The Open Championship is played at classic links golf courses that feature deep bunkers, no trees, large and undulating greens, and high fescue. It's typically played in high winds, colder temperatures and, often, rain.

What does the winner of the Open Championship receive?

In the early days of the Open Championship, the winner received the Challenge Belt, which was returned the next year and awarded to the next winner. If, however, a golfer won the Open for three straight years, he would be able to keep the belt permanently. Young Tom Morris accomplished that feat in 1870. With the retirement of the belt, the R&A created a new award—the claret jug, which has become the most widely recognized trophy in golf. The claret jug was first awarded in 1873. Today, winners' names are engraved on the trophy just as they are completing their victory, and appear on the jug when they are handed the trophy at the prize ceremony after the championship. Winners return the claret jug each year (although they also receive a replica that they can keep).

The winner also carries the honorific label of "The Champion Golfer of the Year."

What is the Open Championship's purse?

Earlier this month, the R&A announced that the purse for the 151st Open will be $16.5 million with a record $3 million going to the champ. “Our aim is to ensure the Open remains at the pinnacle of world golf and we have almost doubled the prize fund since 2016,” said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers in a statement.

How many World Ranking points does the Open Champion receive?

The winner of the Open Championship receives 100 world ranking points.

How many FedEx Cup points does the Open Champion receive?

The winner of the Open Championship receives 600 points.

What are the confirmed future sites in the Open rota?


General view as the sun sets at Royal Troon in 2020

Jan Kruger/R&A

Future sites have been confirmed through 2025. They are as follows:

2024: Royal Troon, Troon, Scotland

2025: Royal Portrush, Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

2026: Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England

Who broadcasts the Open Championship?

NBC signed a 12-year deal to broadcast the Open Championship, and this year will be its seventh televising the event, along with its cable network, Golf Channel. Thursday and Friday coverage will be on both Peacock and Golf Channel, while the weekend will be on NBC.

• • •

Is it the British Open or the Open Championship? The name of the final men’s major of the golf season is a subject of continued discussion. The event’s official name, as explained in this op-ed by former R&A chairman Ian Pattinson, is the Open Championship. But since many United States golf fans continue to refer to it as the British Open, and search news around the event accordingly, Golf Digest continues to utilize both names in its coverage.