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Open Championship 101

Open Championship 2022: Frequently Asked Questions

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Tom Jenkins

For the 30th time, the Open Championship will be held on the Old Course at St. Andrews in 2022, the first time since 2015. This year's Open is the 150th all time, and it will give St. Andrews six more host years than Prestwick, which held 24 Opens between 1860 and 1925, but none since.

In 2015, Jordan Spieth entered the week having already won the first two majors of the season, and appeared to be on track for a third straight. A gutting bogey on the Road Hole on Monday (play spilled over due to bad weather) saw him finish one shot out of the three-man playoff between Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman and Zach Johnson, the eventual winner. Oosthuizen had previously won the Open on the Old Course in 2010, missing out on a second St Andrews Open victory by one shot in the four-hole aggregate playoff.

To get you ready for the major, we offer this Open Championship 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 14-17.

Who conducts the Open Championship?

The R&A conducts the championship.

Is the British Open the same as the Open Championship?

Yes, it is. 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.

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An aerial of the Old Course and the town of St. Andrews.

Dom Furore

Where is the Open Championship being held in 2022?

The 150th Open Championship will take place on the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland, where it was last played in 2015 and previously 2010 and 2005. This will mark the 30th Open at St Andrews, giving it six more host years than Prestwick.

Who won the 2021 Open Championship?

Collin Morikawa won the 2021 Open at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, England, with a 72-hole total of 15-under 265. Rounds of 67, 64, 68 and 66 propelled him to his second major win in only his eighth major start, his first coming at the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. Jordan Spieth, who'd last won a major at the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, finished two strokes back for solo second. Louis Oosthuizen, who led after Thursday, Friday and Saturday, finished four back in a tie for third, failing to go wire-to-wire. South Africa's Dylan Frittelli finished in solo fifth, matching the best major finish of his career.

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 2022 Open Championship

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Tiger Woods holds the claret jug aloft in front of the R&A Clubhouse after securing a five-shot victory at the 2005 Open Championship.

Jamie Squire

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

Yes, Tiger Woods will be in the field for the 2022 Open Championship at St. Andrews, where two of his three Open victories have come, one in 2000 and the other in 2005. After a middling, but gutsy, finish at the Masters, Woods gave it a go at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills and made the cut, but he withdrew after a brutal third round on Saturday, citing pain and discomfort in his left foot. He then skipped the U.S. Open at Brookline, but he sounds ready to give it "one more run" at St Andrews.

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

Yes, despite all the LIV Golf drama, Lefty will be in the field at St. Andrews, 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 2022, 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 96 Open Championships (soon to be 97).

How many players make the 36-hole cut?

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

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Old and Young Tom Morris, circa 1860s

Print Collector

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.

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 five 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.

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

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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

Paul Broadhurst and Rory McIlroy 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 Championship at St. Andrews. McIlroy's nine-under 63 also came at St. Andrews in the first round of the 2010 Open Championship.

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.

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).

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

Topical Press Agency

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).

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 2021 it was awarded to Germany's Matthias Schmid, who tied for 59th.

How many times has an American won the Open Championship?

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 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 a record prize money payout of $14 million, up from $11.5 million in 2021. The winner will receive $2.5 million, plus the claret jug.

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?

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

2023: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, England

2024: Royal Troon, Troon, Scotland

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

Who broadcasts the Open Championship?

NBC signed a 12-year deal to broadcast the Open Championship, and this year will be its sixth 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.