2004 British Open

The 2004 British Open at Royal Troon was a thrilling affair, with relative unknown Todd Hamilton – who a year before the 133rd Open Championship did not even have a PGA Tour card – beating South African Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff, following a thrilling finale to the world’s oldest golf tournament.
The 38-year-old American had been an 11-time winner on the Japanese Tour before winning the 2004 Honda Classic. He truly hit the big time with his British Open victory, however, earning about $1.35 million and gaining exemption in the PGA Tour and the three US majors until 2009. He can play the British Open until he turns 65.
Phil Mickelson had taken the lead with eight holes to play, but faded with bogeys on the back nine, before Hamilton carded four pars to beat Els in the Open Championship’s fifth playoff in ten years. Els had a chance to win the tournament in regulation after Hamilton bogeyed the 18th hole, but missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th to force the playoff, having brought himself back into contention with birdies at 16 and 17.
Els and Hamilton both finished at 10-under-par 274, one shot ahead of the left-handed Mickelson, whose third-placed finish was his first top 10 finish at the British Open.
Els shot 68 in the final round and earned a dubious distinction. He had all four rounds in the 60s for the second time in an Open without winning; the other time was at Royal St. George’s in 1993.
Hamilton closed with a two-under-par 69 to become the sixth consecutive American to win the 2004 British Open at Royal Troon.
Els’ putter again let him down in the playoff, as he missed a birdie putt on the 1st and a par putt on the par-3 17th as Hamilton – ranked 56th in the world and playing in only his eighth major – made four pars to close out the victory.