Mark Calcavecchia became the first player since 1975 to win The Open in a play-off, which was notable on two counts.
It was the first three-way play-off – Australians Greg Norman and Wayne Grady were the runners-up – and it was the first play-off to be contested over four holes instead of a full extra round.
Calcavecchia, who grew up playing golf in Florida, birdied the 18th hole twice on the same day to win the Claret Jug – playing in only his third Open.
On a hot and sunny final day at Royal Troon, Calcavecchia started three strokes adrift of Grady, while Norman was seven behind.
Six birdies in a row to begin his final round put the Shark in contention and he finished with a 64 to post the clubhouse target at nine under par.
Calcavecchia was helped by holing a putt of 40 feet at the 11th and a pitch of 60 feet on the full at the 12th. An 8-iron to four feet at the last set up the birdie he needed to tie Norman having posted his three consecutive rounds of 68.
Grady bogeyed the 17th to ball back to nine under and a par at the last gave him a 71 and a spot in the play-off, in which he would finish three behind the winner.
Norman again started fast in extra time, birdieing the first two holes, but then over-shot the 17th green and took a bogey to drop back into a tie with Calcavecchia.
The Great White Shark’s great length was his undoing at the last. He drove into a bunker 310 yards away and could only advance his second shot into another bunker.
Calcavecchia now clinched victory with a 5-iron approach to six feet. It was his finest hour, while Norman, going out of bounds over the green with his third, squandered his chance.
The Champion admitted thinking: “Man, I can three-putt from six feet and win the British Open. Just make sure you don’t double hit it.”