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SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND» Branden Grace posted the lowest 18hole 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 didn’t know what he meant.
The 29-year-old 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 moved to 8under on his round by hitting a 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.
No one ever got lower — until Grace.
“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 Texan 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 of the nice day. Fifteen players shot a 66 or better. Dustin Johnson missed an 8foot birdie putt on the 16th and failed to birdie the par-5 17th from the fairway and still shot a 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.”
South Africa’s Branden Grace, 29, reacts after making par on the 18th hole and posting a thirdround 62 at the British Open on Saturday at Royal Birkdale.