Southport: Branden Grace made history on a low-scoring Saturday at the British Open as he became the first player ever to shoot a 62 in a major to spark the chase behind leader Jordan Spieth.
The South African took advantage of benign conditions on the links of Royal Birkdale that were a world away from the rain and wind that rendered shot-making almost impossible on Friday.
The South African's eight-under-par round, featuring eight birdies and no dropped shots, saw him rocket up the leaderboard to four under par overall, two behind Spieth's halfway score.
There had been 31 rounds of 63 in the previous 441 major championships, with 10 coming in the British Open including Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson last year at Troon, but never a 62.
And yet Grace, the 29-year-old ranked 35th in the world, later admitted he had been blissfully unaware of what he was about to achieve as he came down the 18th.
"I was just so in the zone of playing, hole after hole. I knew I was obviously playing really well, and making the turn in five-under was pretty special," he said.
"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 the lowest ever."
The round also broke Jodie Mudd's course record of 63, set in the final round of the Open in 1991.
Grace, whose caddie told him of the record after he holed out at the last, added: "I feel I'm playing well. And I just want to get out there again tomorrow (Sunday) and try to do something similar, just play some good golf.
"And obviously it makes me feel a lot better after the score I shot today."
Grace, whose best showing at a major to date is a third place at the PGA Championship in 2015, is one of those hoping to extend a run of the last seven majors being won by players who had never previously won any of golf's biggest prizes.
Johnson, Stenson hopeful
But the ideal weather held into the afternoon on the north-west English coast, allowing Spieth and the other leading players the chance to build on their strong starting positions.
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.
In front of enormous crowds as organisers the R&A hope to see record attendances set this week, the world number one Dustin Johnson was one of those to rack up the birdies.
Johnson shot a six-under-par 64, featuring not a single dropped shot, to climb to three-under overall and give himself a glimmer of hope for Sunday.
"You never know what's going to happen tomorrow. Who knows what the lead's going to be at the end of the day today," said the languid American.
"But I'm going to need to shoot probably nine-under, I would imagine, to get to 12. I think that would be a decent number to sit in the clubhouse at."
Stenson, the defending champion whose rental house near Birkdale was burgled while he was playing his first round on Thursday, was one of a number of players to shoot 65 as he also went to three-under overall.
Published Date: Jul 22, 2017 23:14 PM | Updated Date: Jul 22, 2017 23:14 PM