• Luke Donald believes major record will be broken this week
• No one has ever shot better than 63 during a round at a major
• Conditions at St Andrews make a 62 or better a possibility
Often matched, never bettered, 63 is the lowest round ever recorded in golf’s four major championships.
First set by Johnny Miller in the final round of the 1973 US Open, which he won, the mark has since been equalled 25 times, most recently by Jason Dufner in the second round of the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
However, according to former world No.1 Luke Donald, that record could fall at this week’s Open Championship, with soft, benign conditions presenting players with a great opportunity to bring the Old Course to its knees.
"I would almost be inclined to put money on someone shooting something lower" - Luke Donald
“If we get catch a calm day weather-wise, and assuming the course stays as soft as it is, I would almost be inclined to put money on someone shooting something lower than 63,” Donald told bunkered.co.uk. “It’s reasonably soft out there. You can find ball marks on the greens, which is unusual for this place. The last few Opens have been a bit more firm and faster-running but this is definitely softer, for sure.”
In 2010, Rory McIlroy opened his title tilt with a nine-under-par 63, setting a new Old Course record in the process. Former Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst is the only other player to shoot the shoot in a St Andrews Open – he did so in the third round of the 1990 championship – and, to date, eight players have shot it in the year’s third major.
Like Donald, former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy is optimistic that the record could fall this week.
“It may well happen,” said the 38-year-old Aussie. “The guys these days are so good and so long but it all depends on the wind. If we get no wind, and with the shape the course is in and the pure way that the greens are rolling, then someone could go out there, play well and we see somebody go round in less than 63.”
However, he added: “The difficulty in going crazy-low around here comes from the fact there are only two par-5s, so you’re probably going to need to eagle a couple of par-4s – but, to do that, you’re going to need it to be a little windy. For example, nine and ten are both short, probably driveable par-4s, but only if you have the wind behind you. If you have that, you’ll be able to drive one and not the other. If you don’t have any wind blowing, you probably won’t be able to drive either. So, it’s funny, the thing you want as little of as possible, you also need to have a little bit of.
“There are a lot of things that need to fall into place for you to shoot the lights out but, if somebody does, there’s no reason why they could shoot ten or 11-under. That said, it’s the Open and it’s an intimidating finish with ‘out of bounds’ kind of staring you in the face on the last five holes, so, if you’re coming in and looking good for a record score, it’s going to be a scary finish.”
No Scot has ever shot a 63 in a major championship but, hot on the heels of his final round 64 at Gullane in last week’s Scottish Open, Marc Warren has every reason to fancy his chances of not just joining the elite ’63 Club’ but eclipsing it, too.
“If it’s calm, we could definitely see some pretty low numbers,” said the 34-year-old, currently the top Scot on the official world rankings in 56th place. “It’s slightly softer underfoot than usual, the balls are stopping and the greens are immaculate, so it’s gettable. At the moment, you’re able to carry it pretty much all the way to the hole with a short iron and get it to stop, which is unusual for here, and with your 8- and 9-irons, you’re looking to land it no more than five yards short to allow for one bounce and then it’s stopping dead.
“The thing about this place is that, if it is soft and calm, they can tuck the pins away in some really tricky places but if you can keep control of your distances and ball flight and hole a few putts, then we’ll definitely see some low scores.”
The 63 Club in full
All 26 ‘63s’ carded in the majors and the players who shot them.
1986: Nick Price, third round
1996: Greg Norman, first round
1973: Johnny Miller, fourth round (Oakmont)
1980: Jack Nicklaus, first round (Baltusrol)
1980: Tom Weiskopf, first round (Baltusrol)
2003: Vijay Singh, second round (Olympia Fields)
1977: Mark Hayes, second round (Turnberry)
1980: Isao Aoki, third round (Muirfield)
1986: Greg Norman, second round (Turnberry)
1990: Paul Broadhurst, second round (St Andrews)
1991: Jodie Mudd, fourth round (Royal Birkdale)
1993: Nick Faldo, second round (Royal St George’s)
1993: Payne Stewart, fourth round (Royal St George’s)
2010: Rory McIlroy, first round (St Andrews)
1975: Bruce Crampton, second round (Firestone)
1982: Raymond Floyd, first round (Southern Hills)
1984: Gary Player, second round (Shoal Creek)
1993: Vijay Singh, second round (Inverness)
1995: Michael Bradley, first round (Riviera)
1995: Brad Faxon, fourth round (Riviera)
2000: Jose Maria Olazabal, third round (Valhalla)
2001: Mark O’Meara, second round (Atlanta)
2005: Thomas Bjorn, third round (Baltusrol)
2007: Tiger Woods, second round (Southern Hills)
2011: Steve Stricker, first round (Atlanta)
2013: Jason Dufner, second round (Oak Hill)
Will 63 be broken this week? :: Your thoughts
With conditions as they are, can we see a 62 or better at St Andrews this week? Leave your thoughts below.