SOUTHPORT, England – What Branden Grace didn’t know
Saturday certainly didn’t hurt him.
Without realizing that he was on the verge of history, Grace set the major-championship scoring record with a 62 in the third round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale Golf Club. The course, softened by rain the previous day, was set up at 7,027 yards from a scorecard length of 7,156 and played to a par 34-36–70. It played to a 69.0 scoring average, with 43 of the 77 competitors under par.
“It was a special day, to be quite honest,” Grace told NBC’s Steve Sands immediately after the round. “I had no idea that it was the lowest at all. I was so in the zone and playing so well that I was just trying to finish the round without a bogey and hopefully trying to make another one on the last. That was all I was trying to do. Sometimes it helps not knowing these things. But it was a great day. I played flawlessly from tee to green, and I made some great putts. It was a very special day.”
Here is a hole-by-hole look at the round, including Grace’s comments:
1 – 445-yard par 4: Driver, 127 yards left to hole, gap wedge to 16 feet, one putt, birdie. “It is always nice to make a putt like that on the first is awesome.”
2 – 427-yard par 4: Driver, 130 yards to hole, gap wedge, two putts, par.
3 – 460-yard par 4: Driver, 158 yards to hole, 9-iron to 8 feet, two putts, par.
4 – 182-yard par 3: 8-iron, 176 to hole, to 35 feet, one putt, birdie. “That was a lengthier one. I think I made four of those today. My lag putts were very good. The speed was phenomenal and every time I saw those lines, I just had to do the rest and hit the putt. It was great.”
5 – 310-yard par 4: Driver, 283 yards to green, to 25 feet, two putts, birdie. “That was a tricky hole. You have to go for it or lay it up. I thought that I was driving the ball well, and it was a nice, normal driver. I flew it to the middle of the green. That was one of the putts that I was most disappointed with in my round. I thought I had the line; I just couldn’t get myself to hit it. But it was never a bad thing to walk off with a birdie.”
6 – 489-yard par 4: Driver, 218 yards to hole, 3-iron, two putts, par.
7 – 156-yard, par 3: 9-iron, 151 yards to hole, to 14 feet, two putts, par.
8 – 451-yard par 4: Driver, 188 yards to hole, 9-iron to 25 feet, birdie. “I’ve been rolling it nicely and I’ve been feeling a lot better. It is nice to putt without thinking about the stroke for once.”
9 – 420-yard par 4: Driver, 129 yards to hole, gap wedge to 12 feet, one putt, birdie. “I can’t remember the last time I made a 29. That was good. Those are those putts you have to make, and obviously it is nice to see those drop.”
Front: 5-under 29
10 – 391-yard par 4: 5-iron, 161 yards to hole, 9-iron short of green, two putts, par.
11 – 434-yard par 4: Driver, 173 yards to hole, 7-iron, two putts, par.
12 – 185-yard par 3: 6-iron, 184 yards to hole, to 15 feet, two putts, par.
13 – 507-yard par 4: Driver, 180 yards to hole, hit an iron to 11 feet, two putts, par.
14 – 168-yard par 3: 9-iron, 164 yards to hole, to 34 feet, one putt, birdie. “Today the greens were a little bit faster than the last couple of days. Obviously, it was understandable with the weather we have had. It was good. I think they double cut or triple cut it today. It was good.”
15 – 536-yard par 5: Driver, 240 yards to hole, 2-iron missed green short left, chip to 7 feet, two putts, par.
16 – 433-yard par 4: Driver, 142 yards to hole, 9-iron to 28 feet, one putt, birdie. “I just told Zach [Resago, Grace’s caddie] that I need to give it a chance. I thought I had a great line, and I hit the putt. It looked in all the way; just managed to sneak it in there.”
17 – 563-yard par 5: Driver, 239 yards to hole, 3-iron to 26 feet, two putts, birdie. “I would have been really disappointed if I didn’t make this birdie. I hit a great drive, which I thought was a tough thing. Obviously, going in with a 3-iron was good. Fortunately, it bounced; my pitch was straight into the back of the slope there. Managed to stay on the green, and it was a good lag putt to have.”
18 – 470-yard par 4: Driver, 165 yards to hole, pitching wedge over green, two putts, par. “I really wasn’t worried because I thought my speed and my putts were really good all day. That was the thing that helped me the most. Obviously that 2-footer coming back, I just wanted to make it.”
Back: 3-under 33 for an 8-under 62 total
“I think it helps playing with Duff [Jason Dufner],” Grace said. “He is a character. He is always making jokes and things like that. I had a great day. When you get on a run like that, you stop thinking about golf. You actually start thinking about what you are doing in the moment. It was one of the best ball-striking days I’ve had in a long time. It was a special day.”