Grace Had No Idea He Was Setting A Major Record With 62 At British Open
By SAM FARMER
Los Angeles Times|
Jul 22, 2017 at 4:47 PM
SOUTHPORT, England — Branden Grace was playing in the daylight – good weather, at last — and the dark.
The South African had no idea that he was headed for history Saturday, that his eight-birdie round of 62 in the British Open was the lowest ever in a major championship.
As a result, Grace went from ho-hum to history. He had narrowly made the plus-5 cut, finishing the first two days at Royal Birkdale at 4 over par. He said that on No. 18, he had no idea he was doing something no one else had ever done.
"I honestly didn't," he said. "You know, I was just so in the zone of playing, hole after hole. I knew I was obviously playing really well, and making the turn at 5 under was pretty special. And I thought if I could make a couple more on the back nine, then it's going to be a great score. I had no idea that 62 was obviously the lowest ever."
There have been 31 golfers who have shot a 63 in majors, including Phil Mickelson in the opening round at Royal Troon last year — his final putt for 62 rimmed out — and current defending British Open champion Henrik Stenson, who shot 63 on Sunday of last year's tournament.
Grace had 10 pars and birdied Nos. 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 14, 16 and 17. According to statistics provided by Grace, he made putts of 16, 35, 25, 12, 34, and 28 feet — staggering.
"My main thing was just trying not to bogey 18," he said. "I wanted to finish strong."
The golfers had the benefit of good weather and a course that had been softened by heavy rains the day before, allowing them to better hold the greens with their approach shots.
Grace said Birkdale is "in immaculate condition" and "the best that I've seen any golf links in."
"The greens are softer, still gettable," he said. "They've done a couple things today that I've actually not seen at the Opens. Moving the tee up, I think, 30 yards on the fifth. Trying to give the guys a chance to go for it. Things on the seventh, they've moved the tee up 30 yards. So it's giving some guys the opportunity to be aggressive. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I think that's why there are low scores out there today."
This is the seventh British Open for Grace, whose best finish was a tie for 20th in 2015.
There will surely be unresolved debate about what's better, a 62 on a par-70 course or a 63 on a par-72. The bottom line is, Grace made history in the pressurized crucible in a major.
"I'm just happy with shooting a good round at a special tournament," he said.