The play-off that never was
The second Open Championship to be held in St Andrews was decided by a play-off that never took place. Chaos and controversy surrounded the 1876 event in which Davie Strath refused to take part in the play-off and Bob Martin walked the Old Course to claim the title.
The Open was played during the R&A autumn gathering and many members of the club were enjoying their own brand of golf in the midst of the 34 Open competitors during the second round. There were many delays and much bad tempered muttering. With Martin completing his second round in 90 for a total of 176, Strath had to play the final two holes in 10 strokes to take the title. His third shot to the 17th was played while the group in front was still on the green. His ball hit one of the players and stopped close to the hole when it might have run through on to the road. He was down in two putts, but then took six at the last to tie Martin.
A complaint had been lodged about his play at the 17th and the R&A committee decided that a play-off should be held on the following Monday, after which a ruling would be given. If the complaint was upheld the only penalty was disqualification and Strath, not unreasonably, felt that the decision should be made before any play-off, and refused to take part. But he was over-ruled and Martin went through the formality of walking the course to become champion. Strath was destined never to win the Open and died three years later in Australia.