SOUTHPORT, England — Branden Grace became the first player to shoot 62 in a major championship, going 8 under par over the par-70 Royal Birkdale course Saturday to move ahead of all the 63s in the record book.
Grace, 29, a South African who has seven European Tour titles and another on the PGA Tour, made eight birdies and no bogeys Saturday during the third round of The Open, which was played under mostly sunny skies and with little wind.
“It was a special day, to be quite honest,” Grace said. “I had no idea that was the lowest. I was so in the zone and playing the round so well. I was just trying to play the round without a bogey and make another birdie at the last. Sometimes it helps not knowing these things.
“When you get on a run like that, you stop thinking about golf. It’s one of the best ball-striking rounds of my career.”
Grace hit 16 of 18 greens, getting up and down from over the 18th to set the record in the 442nd major championship to be played.
It was a stark contrast from Friday, when wind and rain pummeled the course and the players. Grace shot 74 and began the round in a tie for 45th place at 4 over par. He will be at 4 under entering Sunday’s final round.
Prior to Grace’s round, there had been 31 players to shoot 63 in a major, starting with Johnny Miller during the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he won his first major title.
Last month, Justin Thomas shot 63 during the third round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, just the fifth to do so in that championship.
A year ago, Henrik Stenson shot 63 in the final round to win The Open at Royal Troon, and Phil Mickelson shot a first-round 63 on his way to finishing second. Robert Streb had a 63 during the second round at last year’s PGA Championship.
There have been 10 scores of 63 at The Open, with only Jodie Mudd shooting the score at Royal Birkdale. None of the six players who shot a third-round 63 in a major went on to win the tournament.
It wasn’t the first time that Grace had gone low in a major. He shot 64 in the third round of the 2015 PGA Championship. His career low round in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event was a 63 at the WGC-HSBC Champions event last year.
Jason Dufner, who played with Grace, is one of the players to shoot 63 in a major. He narrowly missed a 62 during the second round of the 2013 PGA Championship, which he went on to win.