Shackelford: Branden Grace 'in the zone' as he opens Club 62

Phillip Butler
July 23, 2017

Branden Grace, mercifully, had no such thoughts on Saturday when he stood on Royal Birkdale's 18th green and stroked in the three-foot knee-trembler that gave him the first 62 witnessed at a men's major championship.

It seems hard to believe Grace wasn't aware he was about to shoot the lowest round ever recorded in a major championship, especially considering how often it is talked about. The last 63 recorded at the British Open was in the final round at Royal Troon past year by the victor, Henrik Stenson.

The South African said he might have been helped by being unaware of the fact that he was in with a chance of making history.

By the turn in his third round, Spieth - Masters and US Open champion in 2015 - had picked up three birdies to move to nine under par, two clear of his playing partner and fellow American Matt Kuchar. "My caddie told me 'Congrats, you're in the history books.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' I was so in the zone, I was just trying to finish the round without a bogey".

"On 16, I just left it short from eight feet or something".

Before Grace's historic round, 31 players had shot 63 in a major, the most recent authored by Justin Thomas in the third round of the U.S. Open in July.

Pettersen, a club professional of 15 years at Birkdale, got a call at around 9.50 p.m. local time on Friday that he'd be the marker in the first group of the third round, alongside Shaun Norris of South Africa. Grace will be in position to make some noise on Sunday if he can put together another impressive round. But when he finished, he was just two off the lead with Jordan Spieth still waiting to tee off.

Grace - playing in the 13th pairing alongside Jason Dufner - went out in 29 to set up his bid for history. It was a special round from the start and I just wanted to make more birdies. But obviously I knocked in the two-footer or three-footer [for par].

Johnson said: "Fortunately I hit some really good shots today, a lot better than I have the last couple of days, and shot a really good score".

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