SOUTHPORT • Golfer Branden Grace made history in the third round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale yesterday, when he became the first player ever to shoot a round of 62 in a Major.
There had been 31 rounds of 63 in the previous 441 Major championships, with 10 coming in the British Open, including Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson in last year's British Open at Troon, but never a 62.
The South African's eight-under-par round, featuring eight birdies and no dropped shots, saw him rocket up the leaderboard to four-under 206 overall, two behind leader Jordan Spieth's halfway total of six-under.
Grace, who narrowly made the cut as he sat at four over par at the tournament's halfway stage, also broke Jodie Mudd's course record of 63, set in the final round of the Open in 1991.
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"I honestly had no idea that it was something historic. I knew I was playing well and I was just in the zone. I didn't know 62 was the lowest ever, but now it makes it even more special," the 29-year-old said.
"I just need to concentrate on doing something similar tomorrow to get as far in this championship as possible.
"It's just really special. It's always nice shooting a low number, whether it's in a tournament or with friends. However, to do it here at The Open is awesome and I'll remember it forever."
Third round (selected early scores, USA unless stated)
206 Branden Grace (Rsa) 70 74 62
207 Dustin Johnson 71 72 64, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 73 65
209 Rickie Fowler 71 71 67
210 Shaun Norris (Rsa) 71 74 65, Jason Day (Aus) 69 76 65, Scott Hend (Aus) 71 74 65, Paul Casey (Eng) 66 77 67, Jason Dufner 73
71 66, Tony Finau 70 73 67, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 73 69 68
Grace had five birdies on the front nine to go out in just 29 before three more coming home, at the short 14th and back-to-back at 16 and 17.
He risked missing out on history when he sent his approach to the 18th long, but a fine putt from the very back of the green allowed him to rescue par.
The world No. 35 has previously had four top-five finishes at Majors, including a third place at the PGA Championship in 2015.
He equalled the record for the lowest ever round on the European Tour when he shot a 12-under 60 at Kingsbarns in his 2012 victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson later threatened to equal or even break Grace's record but the American finished on six-under 64 for a 207 total.
Earlier on Friday, Mickelson shrugged off the disappointment of missing the cut for the first time at the course where he made his British Open debut in 1991.
The 47-year-old American posted a 77, which left him 10 over after his first-round 73 and heading home for the first time in four outings at Southport.
But a light-hearted Mickelson joked he had at least missed the cut "with flair" as he became a big-name casualty of swirling wind and biting cold on England's North-west coast.
"You know, it's just one of those things where if it starts going bad in these conditions, it's just going to go bad. It's not that big a deal," he said.
"Unfortunately it's the first cut I've missed this year and I missed it with flair."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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