2015 British Open: Zach Johnson Denies Spieth, Wins It In Playoff

Zach Johnson with the Claret Jug after winning the 2015 British Open
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

The 2015 British Open returned to The Old Course at St. Andrews, and at the Home of Golf, the talk of tournament week was Jordan Spieth. Could Spieth - who already won the Masters and U.S. Open in the months preceding - make it three majors in a row? Almost! But by the end of the tournament, it was Zach Johnson who claimed the Claret Jug following a playoff.

Quick Bits

  • Winner: Zach Johnson, 273 (final scores below)
  • Dates: July 16-20, 2015
  • Golf course: The Old Course at St. Andrews
  • Open championship number: This was the 144th time the Open Championship was played.

Spieth Focus of Attention at 2015 British Open

Zach Johnson survived a 4-hole, aggregate-score playoff against Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman to win the 2015 British Open. But Jordan Spieth dominated the pre-tournament talk and was the focus of attention for most of the tournament itself.

Why? Because Spieth had already won the 2015 Masters and 2015 U.S. Open. He was trying to win his third major of the year and keep the Grand Slam dream alive.

That dream was alive right up until the 72nd hole of the Open. Spieth tied for the lead with a birdie on the 16th hole in the final round, but then bogeyed No. 17 to drop one behind. Still, he had a birdie putt on the 18th hole to get into the playoff. It slid just past the edge of the cup, and Spieth wound up tied for fourth place, one stroke out of the playoff.

How Johnson Claimed the Claret Jug

Both Johnson and Oosthuizen were going for their second wins in majors. Johnson previously won the 2007 Masters, and Oosthuizen was the 2010 British Open champ. This was the second time Oosthuizen lost in a playoff at a major, too; he lost to Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters.

Oosthuizen was the co-leader after 54 holes with Jason Day and amateur Paul Dunne at 12-under. Spieth was in second, one behind; Johnson and Leishman were among a group three back at 9-under.

Johnson got off to a very hot start on the final day, a Monday (just the second Monday-finish in Open Championship history due to rains and high winds earlier in the tournament) shooting 31 on the front nine. He birdied seven of his first 12 holes.

When Johnson, playing several groups ahead of Spieth's group and Oosthuizen's group, got to the 72nd green, he rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt to post a final score of 15-under 273.

At the time, that was one behind Leishman's on-course lead of 16-under, but Leishman soon bogeyed the 16th. When he parred Nos. 17 and 18, he and Johnson were tied at 15-under and waiting to see if anyone could beat them.

Nobody did. Spieth and Day, playing together, both needed birdies on the 18th hole to tie Johnson and Leishman, but both just missed.

Oosthuizen, however, didn't. Stuck on 14-under for the past four holes, Oosthuizen hit a fantastic approach into the 18th green, then sank the birdie putt to make it a 3-way playoff.

Leishman quickly became a non-factor in the playoff, but Oosthuizen and Johnson started with birdies. Johnson took a 1-shot lead with another birdie on the second extra hole and maintained that lead following the third hole. On the final playoff hole, Oosthuizen again had a birdie putt to tie (and extend the playoff) on the 18th green, but this time he missed, giving Johnson the Claret Jug.

Amateurs Played Great at 2015 Open

The 2015 British Open was a great one for amateurs. Dunne was the first amateur since Bobby Jones in 1927 to hold or share the 54-hole lead. He shot 78 in the final round, however, falling out of the Top 20 final standings.

But Jordan Niebrugge finished tied for sixth as low amateur, and amateurs Oliver Schniederjans and Ashley Chesters also finished inside the Top 20.

Final Scores in the 2015 Open Championship

Here are the final scores from the 2015 British Open, played at The Old Course (par-72) in St. Andrews, Scotland (a-amateur; x-won playoff):

x-Zach Johnson 66-71-70-66--273 $1,794,690
Louis Oosthuizen 67-70-67-69--273 $837,262
Marc Leishman 70-73-64-66--273 $837,262
Jason Day 66-71-67-70--274 $460,377
Jordan Spieth 67-72-66-69--274 $460,377
Sergio Garcia 70-69-68-70--277 $305,878
Justin Rose 71-68-68-70--277 $305,878
Danny Willett 66-69-72-70--277 $305,878
a-Jordan Niebrugge 67-73-67-70--277
Adam Scott 70-67-70-71--278 $216,143
Brooks Koepka 71-70-69-68--278 $216,143
Luke Donald 68-70-73-68--279 $162,107
Anthony Wall 70-71-68-70--279 $162,107
Martin Kaymer 71-70-70-68--279 $162,107
Brendon Todd 71-73-69-66--279 $162,107
a-Ollie Schniederjans 70-72-70-67--279
a-Ashley Chesters 71-72-67-69--279
Robert Streb 66-71-70-73--280 $129,140
Hideki Matsuyama 72-66-71-71--280 $129,140
Stewart Cink 70-71-68-72--281 $95,938
Retief Goosen 66-72-69-74--281 $95,938
Phil Mickelson 70-72-70-69--281 $95,938
Padraig Harrington 72-69-65-75--281 $95,938
Greg Owen 68-73-71-69--281 $95,938
Marcus Fraser 74-69-68-70--281 $95,938
James Morrison 71-71-70-69--281 $95,938
Branden Grace 69-72-73-67--281 $95,938
Russell Henley 74-66-72-69--281 $95,938
Patrick Reed 72-70-67-72--281 $95,938
a-Paul Dunne 69-69-66-78-282
Jim Furyk 73-71-66-72--282 $63,075
Steven Bowditch 70-69-69-74--282 $63,075
Jimmy Walker 72-68-71-71--282 $63,075
Ryan Palmer 71-71-67-73--282 $63,075
Matt Jones 68-73-69-72--282 $63,075
Billy Horschel 73-71-71-67--282 $63,075
Rickie Fowler 72-71-66-73--282 $63,075
Anirban Lahiri 69-70-71-72--282 $63,075
Andy Sullivan 72-71-68-71--282 $63,075
Geoff Ogilvy 71-68-72-72--283 $43,480
John Senden 72-72-68-71--283 $43,480
Paul Lawrie 66-70-74-73--283 $43,480
Henrik Stenson 73-70-71-69--283 $43,480
Webb Simpson 70-70-71-72--283 $43,480
Francesco Molinari 72-71-73-67--283 $43,480
Marc Warren 68-69-72-74--283 $43,480
Rafael Cabrera-Bello 71-73-68-71--283 $43,480
Scott Arnold 71-73-73-66--283 $43,480
David Duval 72-72-67-73--284 $29,227
Jamie Donaldson 72-71-71-70--284 $29,227
David Howell 68-73-73-70--284 $29,227
Lee Westwood 71-73-69-71--284 $29,227
Graeme McDowell 72-72-70-70--284 $29,227
Hunter Mahan 72-72-67-73--284 $29,227
Ryan Fox 72-69-76-67--284 $29,227
Dustin Johnson 65-69-75-75--284 $29,227
Eddie Pepperell 72-70-66-76--284 $29,227
Greg Chalmers 70-71-69-75--285 $24,824
Matt Kuchar 71-73-70-71--285 $24,824
Jason Dufner 73-71-67-74--285 $24,824
Kevin Na 67-75-70-73--285 $24,824
Gary Woodland 72-70-71-72--285 $24,824
Cameron Tringale 71-71-73-70--285 $24,824
David Lipsky 73-69-70-73--285 $24,824
Ernie Els 71-73-69-73--286 $23,955
Thongchai Jaidee 72-71-70-73--286 $23,955
a-Romain Langasque 69-72-71-74--286
Charl Schwartzel 67-72-69-79--287 $23,331
Graham DeLaet 71-73-68-75--287 $23,331
Ross Fisher 71-73-72-71--287 $23,331
Bernd Wiesberger 72-72-71-72--287 $23,331
Richie Ramsay 72-71-70-74--287 $23,331
Harris English 71-72-69-75--287 $23,331
Paul Casey 70-71-75-72--288 $22,551
Brett Rumford 71-71-71-75--288 $22,551
Ben Martin 74-70-67-77--288 $22,551
David Lingmerth 69-72-70-77--288 $22,551
Bernhard Langer 74-70-73-72--289 $22,082
Mark O'Meara 72-72-71-74--289 $22,082
Thomas Aiken 75-69-72-74--290 $21,848

Comings and Goings at the 2015 British Open

There were two significant departures from Open Championship play in 2015:

  • 5-time British Open champ Tom Watson played the Open for the last time.
  • 3-time winner Nick Faldo also played the Open for the final time.

Watson and Faldo both missed the cut.

Another departure of sorts: Defending champion Rory McIlroy, ranked No. 1 in the world at the time, was unable to play the tournament due to an ankle injury. It was the first time since Ben Hogan didn't show up for the 1954 Open that a defending champion failed to play.