Rules in Focus Ties

Thomas BjornRules in Focus

Decision on Ties

The importance of determining how a tie is decided was highlighted in August at the 2011 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles where Thomas Bjorn won a marathon five-way play-off.

Bjorn found himself in the tied situation alongside Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, England’s Mark Foster and South African George Coetzee after completing 72 holes of play. It took five extra holes to determine the winner and see the Dane lift the coveted trophy.

In both match play and stroke play, a tie can be an acceptable result. However, more often than not at both professional and club level, it is desirable to have a sole winner.

Harrington and GarciaIt is essential then that the decision on how to solve a tie is taken in advance of the competition and established in the conditions of the competition so that those participating are fully aware of how the winner will be established. The manner, day and time of a resolution of a tie is a responsibility of the Committee in charge of the competition under Rule 33-6.

Ties can be decided in any manner of means - there is no hard or fast rule as to how this is achieved. Depending on the competition format and timescales, the Committee may choose to have a play-off immediately or arrange for the competitors to return at a later time to determine the winner. However, it is not possible to decide a halved match by stroke play and a stroke play tie cannot be decided by a match. The play-off must be conducted under the same Rules as the competition itself.

Match Play

Where a match ends all square there should be a hole by hole play-off and the play-off should start on the hole where the match began. In a handicap match, handicap strokes continue to be allowed in the play-off.

Stroke Play

In the case of Bjorn at Gleneagles the tournament’s conditions stipulated that in the event of a tie for first place, there would be a stroke play hole-by-hole play-off to determine the winner,