Amazing Grace - South African makes major history with round of 62
BRANDEN GRACE produced the lowest round in major history when he reduced Royal Birkdale to 62 magnificent blows. The South African struggled to hold back the tears after a magnificent round of golf that climaxed with a brilliant up and down from the back of the final green.
Make no mistake, Grace knew exactly what was at stake as he set out on the third round of The Open. He began the day four over par - he ended it four under, just two shots behind 36-hole leader Jordan Spieth, who had yet to begin his round.
Grace was flawless from start to finish. He knew that he needed a fast start if he was get back into contention and he produced it with a birdie at the opening hole. He also picked up strokes at the fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth to reach the turn in 29. Conditions were perfect, with scarcely a breath of wind, and the course had been softened up by the rain that fell on Friday and continued overnight.
Grace birded the 14th, missed a short birdie putt at the par-five 15th, but holed a 30-footer at the 16th to pick up another shot and when he also birded the 17th, the record was on. He was actually unfortunate not to eagle the penultimate hole, and came to the final tee with the pressure on his shoulders. He split the fairway with his drive and seemed to spend an eternity deciding which club to use for his second shot. He hit what looked to be a perfect approach but had clearly forgotten to take account of the adrenaline that was clearly pumping through his body and the ball ran through the green. He took a putter and played a fantastic shot that rolled to the side of the hole. The tap-in was a formality, and the tens of thousands of people who had poured into this magnificent venue had seen history made.
In truth, Grace's score could have been even better as he missed a number of putts at the start of the back nine. But he will settle for his day's work.
A total of 10 players had previously shot 63 in The Open, and a further 21 had recorded the same score at The Masters, US Open and US PGA Championship. Indeed, Greg Norman and Vijay Singh each did it twice. But nobody had ever managed a 62. Until today.
Many of the game's biggest stars had near-misses. In the opening round of the 1980 U.S. Open, Jack Nicklaus missed a three-footer on the final hole for 62. In the second round of the 2007 US PGA Championship, Tiger Woods' 16-foot putt on the final hole hit the edge of the cup and spun out. Woods later referred to his score as "62-and-a-half." In the opening round of last year’s Open, Phil Mickelson lipped out his own 18-foot putt for history. Mickelson said afterwards: "I want to cry."
Grace, whose playing partner Jason Dufner shot a 66, insisted after his round that he had no idea he had made history. "I hadn't a clue about the significance of the round until Jason's caddie informed me," he said. "It was just one of those days when everything went right and of course it helped that the conditions were so gentle and that there was no wind."
Players who have shot 63 at The Open
- Mark Hayes, 1977, Turnberry, second round (7-under)
- Isao Aoki, 1980, Muirfield, third round (8-under)
- Greg Norman, 1986, Turnberry, second round (7-under)
- Paul Broadhurst, 1990 St Andrews, third round (9-under)
- Jodie Mudd, 1991, Birkdale, final round (7-under)
- Nick Faldo, 1993, St. George’s, second round (7-under)
- Payne Stewart 1993, St. George’s, final round (7-under)
- Rory McIlroy 2010, St. Andrews, first round (9-under)
- Phil Mickelson 2016, Troon, first round (8-under)
- Henrik Stenson, 2016, Troon, final round (8-under)
** A further 21 players have shot 63 at The Masters, US Open and US PGA Championship. Vijay Singh and Greg Norman are the only men to do it twice
Image Credit: Twitter @ProFanz
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