Amazing: Branden Grace shoots 1st 62 in major championship history at Open

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Amazing: Branden Grace shoots 1st 62 in major championship history at Open

PGA Tour

Amazing: Branden Grace shoots 1st 62 in major championship history at Open

Branden Grace is alone in the record books.

Grace fired a bogey-free 8-under 62 in the third round of the British Open, becoming the first player in major championship history to shoot lower than 63.

The 29-year-old South African did it with a strong finishing kick, birdieing Nos. 14, 16 and 17 to put him to 8 under for the day. Needing a par at the last for that historic 62, Grace calmly lagged a 60-footer from beyond the green to 2 feet. He rolled that remainder in for the record. Grace’s 62 also breaks the course record at Royal Birkdale, which Jodie Mudd set with a 63 in the final round of the 1991 Open.

And he’s now in contention to win his first major championship, as he jumped from T-45 to T-2 when he reached the clubhouse at 4 under total.

Grace has a PGA Tour win and seven European Tour titles, with his best major finish being a T-4 at the 2015 U.S. Open. But there are those experiences, and then there’s a 62 in a major championship.

“It was a special day,” Grace said.

A special day that had been a long time coming.

There has been 31 rounds of 63 in major championships, the latest arising from Justin Thomas last month in the third round of the U.S. Open. It all started with Johnny Miller’s final-round 63 at the 1973 U.S. Open.

In between, there had been several near misses at 62: Jack Nicklaus missing a 3-footer for 62 in the first round of the 1980 U.S. Open, Nick Price horseshoeing out a 25-footer for 62 in the third round of the 1986 Masters and Tiger Woods also getting a horrible horseshoe on a 12-footer for 62 during the second round of the 2007 PGA Championship.

And just last year, Phil Mickelson agonizingly got that lip-out fate with his putt for 62 during the first round of the British Open (he would clean up the 10th 63 in Open history). Heck, Greg Norman bogeyed his final hole in the second round of the 1986 British Open to shoot 63.

Grace finally cracked the code to best 63, though, and he did it with total nonchalance.

“I had no idea (my score) was the lowest at all,” Grace said.

The day was glorious from the start. Grace rolled in a 15-foot double-breaker for birdie at the first to get his juices flowing. He buried a 40-footer for birdie at the fourth, two-putted for another at the drivable par-4 fifth, made a 30-footer for birdie at No. 8 and closed out his front nine with a curling 15-footer for birdie.

Just like that, Grace had gone out in 5-under 29.

The key was incredible ball striking (Grace hits 17/18 greens in regulation) and a warm putter.

“I played flawlessly from tee to green and I made some great putts,” Grace said.

That didn’t stop on the back nine. After four straight pars, Grace rolled in a 30-footer for birdie at No. 14 and the 62 was now within reach.

He lipped out a 10-footer for birdie at the 15th, but he faced a 25-footer for birdie at No. 16 to set that right.

“I just told (caddie) Zack (Rasego), ‘I just need to give it a chance,’ ” Grace said.

The ball crawled to the hole and dropped. He was now 7 under for the round. Grace hit a perfect drive and a towering iron to 35 feet behind the hole on an upper ridge at the par-5 17th. He lagged beautifully from there for a two-putt birdie.

Now, he just needed a par at the last for 62.

Grace drove into the first cut of the left rough and caught a flyer on his approach, leaving his ball just beyond the green some 60 feet from the hole.

Down in two from there for the record. Was he nervous?

“I wasn’t really worried because I thought my speed putts were really good the whole day,” Grace said.

His speed proved true again, as he lagged to 2 feet. He made that comebacker for history like it was nothing.

What was so key for Grace on Saturday? Apparently, it was an ease with which few can find in a major championship.

“When you get on a run like that, you stop thinking about golf,” Grace said. “You actually stop thinking about what you’re doing at the moment.”

You should start thinking now, Branden. Your golf’s new Mr. 62.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home