The 16th Open | 1876 St Andrews

Bob Martin breaks a tie without needing a play-off

There have been 20 play-offs of varying lengths in the history of The Open, but no extra holes were required when a tie at the top of the leaderboard occurred for the very first time in 1876.

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Bob Martin and Davie Strath were scheduled to contest a 36-hole play-off after both men recorded final scores of 176 at St Andrews, leaving them seven strokes clear of Willie Park Snr in third.

However, controversy had surrounded the end of Strath's second round in regulation play and the situation soon escalated, resulting in a bizarre conclusion.

The Open of 1876 took place during the Royal and Ancient's Autumn Meeting when Prince Leopold, the fifth son of Queen Victoria, was installed as captain.

There were significant celebrations to mark the first royal visit to St Andrews for 200 years and, as a result, huge crowds were present on the Old Course as members participated in their own games while The Open took place.

Strath had already inadvertently struck someone on the head with a wayward shot at the 14th when he played the penultimate hole amid a sea of spectators.

Not realising that the green had yet to clear, Strath's approach hit a player putting out on the green, with the incident preventing his ball from going on to the road.

Following calls for Strath to be disqualified, the Championship Committee ordered that a play-off should proceed on the Monday "under protest".

Yet Strath insisted a decision should be made one way or another before any extra holes were played. When his objection was overruled, he simply refused to participate, leaving Martin to walk the course on his own and be declared the Champion Golfer of the Year in the strangest of circumstances.