BRAN­DEN GRACE sur­prised af­ter shoot­ing record 62.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

SOUTH­PORT, Eng­land — Bran­den Grace posted the low­est 18-hole score in 157 years and 422 ma­jor cham­pi­onships, and he didn’t even know it.

He knocked in his short par putt on the fi­nal hole at Royal Birk­dale for a 62 when his cad­die, Zack Rasego, walked up to him and said, “You’re in the his­tory books.” Grace, 29, didn’t know what he meant.

The South African was so locked in on a flaw­less round Satur­day at the Bri­tish Open that he wasn’t even aware of the scor­ing record. Grace was only think­ing about try­ing to get through the third round with­out a bo­gey.

“I had no idea that a 62 was ob­vi­ously the low­est ever,” Grace said. “Now it makes it even more spe­cial than what it was.”

Grace pounced on a serene day that was ideal for scor­ing at Royal Birk­dale with a 29 on the front nine. And af­ter a lull to start the back nine, he re­sumed his march with a 36-foot birdie putt on the par-3 14th, a birdie putt from just in­side 30 feet on No. 16, and then he moved to 8 un­der on his round by hit­ting 3-iron onto the green at the par-5 17th for a two-putt birdie.

From about 60 feet be­hind the 18th green, he rolled a beau­ti­ful lag to 2 feet and tapped in for the record.

Johnny Miller shot his fa­mous 63 in the fi­nal round at Oak­mont in 1973 to win the U.S. Open. Since then, 28 play­ers posted a 63 in the ma­jors 30 times, most re­cently by Justin Thomas in the U.S. Open last month at Erin Hills.

“Look at that num­ber! That is sweet,” Miller, now a golf an­a­lyst, said as NBC flashed a 62 on the screen.

With his name in the record book, still to be de­ter­mined was whether he had a chance to add his name to the claret jug. Grace, who made the cut by one shot, fin­ished at 4-un­der 206. He was two shots be­hind Jor­dan Spi­eth, who was on the range still warm­ing up, when Grace fin­ished.

Spi­eth shot a 65, how­ever, and the day ended with Grace seven shots out of the lead.

Grace wasn’t the only player to take ad­van­tage. Fif­teen play­ers shot 66 or bet­ter. Dustin John­son missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 16th and failed to birdie the par-5 17th from the fair­way and still shot 64.

“You still have to do it out there,” said Grace, who said par felt more like 67 than 70 be­cause of the light wind and turf that was on the soft side. “There’s a lot of spots you want to keep out of on this golf course. And I did it to­day. So just for­tu­nate the way things fin­ished.”

He played the third round with Jason Dufner, who shot a 63 at Oak Hill in the sec­ond round of the PGA Cham­pi­onship four years ago. Dufner also had a chance at 62, fac­ing a 10-foot birdie on the last hole. He left it well short and barely made the par for 63.

“It’s kind of neat to be a part of his­tory,” said Dufner, who shot 66 Satur­day. “It’s a great ex­pe­ri­ence for him. It was semi-cool for me.”

Grace’s record score came one year af­ter Phil Mick­el­son al­most be­came the first to shoot 62 un­til his birdie putt on the 18th at Royal Troon in the first round swirled around the edge of the cup.

Grace’s record score came 44 years af­ter Miller was the first to shoot 63 in a ma­jor. Miller’s record was 33 years af­ter Lloyd Man­grum was the first to shoot 64 in a ma­jor, at the 1940 Masters.


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