South Africas Branden Grace scored 62, the lowest ever round in a men major tournament, but said he had no idea he was on course to make history
Ignorance is clearly golfing bliss. As Branden Grace tapped in for par at Royal Birkdales 18 th hole at 3.16 pm on Saturday, the most striking aspect was how underwhelmed the South African seemed by what he had accomplished. Even the appearance of vast banks of media representatives was not sufficient for the penny to drop.
Grace had become a history manufacturer as the first man to post 62 in a major championship. Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods may be greats of this athletic but they never reached that sorcery figure. Grace has etched his name where legends could not.
The reason for Graces low-key celebration was soon clear. He had no awareness whatsoever of what his Open third round represented in wider context.
Lets get this out of the style: I didnt know what was going on on 18. I promise you, said Grace as his opening gambit. I candidly didnt. I was just so in the zone of playing, pit after pit. I knew I was patently playing really well, and constructing the turn in five under was fairly special. I supposed if I could make a couple more on the back nine, then it was going to be a great rating. I had no idea that 62 was the lowest ever.
Obviously , now it builds it even more special than what it was. My whole thing on the 18 th was trying merely not to make a bogey. I knocked in the two-footer or three-footer. And Zack[ Rasego, Graces caddie] came up and said: Youre in the history books. And I was like: What are you talking about?
This scenario undoubtedly helped Grace. Had the 29 -year-old, “whos never” won a major, been aware of the magnitude of what he was about to achieve it would inevitably have affected his mindset. So many players have fallen short because of that weight of history. Grace was altogether unburdened.
Its always nice shooting a low number, whether its any day of the week, whether its in a tournament or with friends, Grace added. And then finishing the round and then used to identify what youve done builds it even better, it genuinely does. To do it at the Open Championship is pretty special.
Sometimes the good guys do win. Earlier this year, Grace donated a significant sum to help victims of devastating forest fires in Knysna, the South African area where he first played golf. It is actually tragic what happened back there, he said. But knowing that I was in the position to help, thats the right thing to do. So you dont even think twice about it. Hopefully a lot of lives can be changed and can be various kinds of restored, if I can put it that way. If it puts a smile on those peoples faces, maybe theres a light tomorrow for them.
The footnotes were not long in arriving. Birkdales par of 70, against a more common, but not exclusive, major standard of 72 has been used to downplay Graces depicting. Perfect scoring conditions were also highlighted by some commentators as cause to place an asterisk against what “the mens” from Pretoria had done. Both points are spurious: par is essentially simply a tool to help keep score the lowest always wins and majors over decades have occasionally witnessed ideal weather.
Talking about this can go on forever, said Grace. Im just happy with shooting a good round at a special tournament. And on a great day. But, you know, whether you shoot 63, 62 or 60, you have to do something right and things have to go your way to be able to do that. Im not going to take anything away from a guy shooting 63 on a par 72.
Henrik Stenson was another to enjoy a favourable connections, the defending Open champion firing himself into contention with a 65. He is now three under for the tournament and apparently unaffected by Thursdays incident when the Swedes rental home was burgled and possessions stolen.
It was all the mess getting everything organised, getting my clothes fixed and back ready to play golf, Stenson said. Instead of relaxing, watching a movie and chilling out, we had to do other things. It wasnt great but Im glad to inform you I havent lost anything in the last two days, so things are pretty good at the moment.
The world No1, Dustin Johnson, is a stroke better off than Stenson following his Saturday 64. Johnson has suffered a curiously poor run after slipping on stairs and missing the Master. During the early part of 2017, he appeared regularly unbeatable.
Ive fought the last little bit, Johnson said. Ive watched a lot of video of my play in LA and Mexico and the matchplay at the start of the year simply to see if I can notice anything that Im doing then with my swinging compared to now. I believe I figured it out today.
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