Changes are coming to the Open Championship. Or there was a misunderstanding. Either way, someone at the social reins of the R&A’s flagship event appears to have gotten a tad trigger happy.
On Friday morning, the Open’s Twitter account posted the following message:
“The Open will have a three hole play-off at The Open. If needed, that will be the first of its kind. We will play the 1st, 13th and 18th.”
The announcement was paired with a short “Did you know?” video on the topic:
Shortly after it went up, however, the Twitter post was deleted. And there was no accompanying press release from the R&A officially announcing a rules change with the Open’s playoff format.
Since 1986, the R&A has employed a four-hole aggregate playoff to decide the Open winner if there was a tie after 72 holes, followed by sudden death if things remain deadlocked after four holes. It was first used in 1989 when Mark Calcavecchia defeated Greg Norman and Wayne Grady at Royal Troon for the claret jug. Prior to that, the Open playoff was 18 holes from 1964 to 1985, with a 36-hole showdown before that.
The PGA Championship uses a three-hole aggregate playoff, while the U.S. Open ditched its 18-hole playoff for a two-hole aggregate in 2018. The Masters is the only major that uses a sudden-death format.
At the time of writing, the R&A has not responded to a Golf Digest request for comment on the Twitter post.
The 2019 Open Championship begins July 18, visiting Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951. Francesco Molinari is the defending champ.
UPDATE—11:23 a.m.: Ninety minutes after the first tweet was deleted, a similar message was posted on the Open’s account:
This makes it appear a playoff restructuring is on the docket. This story will be updated when more information from the R&A is available.