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In more than 150 years of men’s major championships, nobody had ever shot lower than a 63 – until the 2017 Open Championship.

In the third round of the championship at Royal Birkdale, Branden Grace took advantage of benign conditions to post a bogey-free, eight-under-par 62, thus ending a 24-year hoodoo of 31 players that had posted a 63.

Four months on, the South African has reflected on his record-breaking round, remaining adamant that he had no idea throughout that he was on the verge of making history.

Branden Grace

What he said

“The golf course was there for the taking, really. You very seldom get days when there’s nothing.

“I gave myself a good putt for birdie on the first hole. For me, that’s a big thing. If I make a good putt on the first, I feel good about my putting for the rest of the round. When I made that putt, I thought, ‘Ok, what a great way to start the round’.

“The whole day, I just wasn’t thinking on the greens. It was literally just focusing on the line and the speed and just hitting it. There were no negative thoughts.

“It never clicked what was going on. The second shot into the green on 17 [a par-5] was one of my best and when I tapped in for birdie, people were going crazy. I was like, ‘I only tapped it in’.

“Then on 18, after walking past the bunkers 150 yards in, there was a standing ovation. But it still didn’t click. Being eight-under, I never put two and two together, and that certainly helped us.”

Hole-by-hole of how Grace made history

1st hole: 448 yards par 4 – Driver, 127 yards to hole, gap wedge to 16ft, one putt for birdie

2nd hole: 422 yards par 4 – Driver, 130 yards to hole, gap wedge, two putts for par

3rd hole: 451 yards par 4 – Driver, 158 yards to hole, 9-iron to 8ft, two putts for par

4th hole: 199 yards par 3 – 8-iron, 176 yards to hole, 35ft putt for birdie

5th hole: 346 yards par 4 – Driver, 283 yards to green, two putts for birdie

6th hole: 499 yards par 4 – Driver, 218 yards to hole, 3-iron, two putts for par

7th hole: 177 yards par 3 – 9-iron, 151 yards to hole, two putts from 14ft for par

8th hole: 458 yards par 4 – Driver, 188 yards to hole, 9-iron to 25ft, one putt for birdie

9th hole: 416 yards par 4 – Driver, 129 yards to hole, gap wedge to 12ft, one putt for birdie

– – – OUT 29 – – –

10th hole: 402 yards par 4 – 5-iron, 161 yards to hole, 9-iron short of green, two putts for par

11th hole: 436 yards par 4 – Driver, 173 yards to hole, 7-iron, two putts for par

12th hole: 183 yards par 3 – 6-iron, 184 yards to hole, two putts from 15ft for par

13th hole: 499 yards par 4 – Driver, 180 yards to hole, two putts from 11ft for par

14th hole: 200 yards par 3 – 9 iron, 164 yards to hole, 36ft putt for birdie

15th hole: 542 yards par 5 – Driver, 240 yards to hole, 2-iron, missed green short left, chip to 7 feet, two putts for par

16th hole: 438 yards par 4 – Driver, 142 yards to hole, 9-iron, 28ft putt for birdie

17th hole: 567 yards par 5 – Driver, 239 yards to hole, 3-iron, two putts from 26ft for birdie

18th hole: 473 yards par 4 – Driver, 165 yards to hole, pitching wedge over green, two putts for par.

– – – IN 33 – – –

– – – TOTAL 62 – – –

Social media reaction

The nearly men

After Johnny Miller became the first player to shoot 63 in a major en route to victory in the 1973 US Open at Oakmont, 30 players matched him – up until Justin Thomas at the 2017 US Open – before Grace made 62 the new benchmark.

A day after Grace’s 62, Chinese player Haotong Li became the 32nd member of the 63 club after a blistering final round which left him finishing in a tie for third.

Here’s everyone who shot a 63 in a major:

The Masters

Nick Price (1986)
Greg Norman (1996)

US Open

Johnny Miller (1973)
Jack Nicklaus (1980)
Tom Weiskopf (1980)
Vijay Singh (2003)
Justin Thomas (2017)

The Open

Mark Hayes (1977)
Isao Aoki (1980)
Greg Norman (1986)
Paul Broadhurst (1990)
Jodie Mudd (1991)
Nick Faldo (1993)
Payne Stewart (1993)
Rory McIlroy (2010)
Phil Mickelson (2016)
Henrik Stenson (2016)
Haotong Li (2017)

US PGA Championship

Bruce Crampton (1975)
Raymond Floyd (1982)
Gary Player (1984)
Vijay Singh (1993)
Michael Bradley (1995)
Brad Faxon (1995)
Jose Maria Olazabal (2000)
Mark O’Meara (2001)
Thomas Bjorn (2005)
Tiger Woods (2007)
Steve Stricker (2011)
Jason Dufner (2013)
Hiroshi Iwata (2015)
Robert Streb (2016)

So, will we see the first 61 in major championship golf anytime soon? At Carnoustie, perhaps?

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