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By: Global Golf Post
The scene was set for record breaking long before Branden Grace handed in the first 62 in the long history of major championship golf during the third round of the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.
Where, on Friday morning, the early players did not exactly inspire the later starters with their wind-tossed pars, bogeys and worse, the situation was altogether different Saturday morning. The leaderboard was bubbling over with birdies, with South Africa’s Shaun Norris leading the way as he handed in a 5-under-par 65 in the company of a marker.
Tommy Fleetwood, local hero, added a 66 to earlier scores of 76 and 69 in front of half of Southport before Scott Pend encouraged a growing following of his own on his way to the second 65 of the day. Soon after, Jason Day matched that tally.
It was just as the 65’s were becoming a tad boring that Grace started looking like a man who could up the ante. When the South African sped to the turn in 29, people began on their calculations. They were a bit impatient with the player for the four pars which marked the start of his second half but he was soon back in favor as he birdied the 14th, 16th and 17th to play his way into the history books. Not that he knew it until his caddie, Zac Rasego, told him as much after his par putt at 18 had dropped.
Grace was mighty relieved that Rasego had not predicted what might happen. “I think Zac knew what I was doing and good on him for not telling me,” he said.
The reason Grace was a bit out of touch was because he was “so in the zone, so focused.”
Only the previous week, he and Rasego had sat down together and discussed how they were not communicating as well as they had been. It was a timely talk, for Rasego, who caddied for Louis Oosthuizen when he won the 2010 Open at St Andrews, knew what he needed to say and do to keep the pressure on his player to a minimum.
Since Grace was aware that Dustin Johnson was 5 under after 10 holes, he was not sure that his record-breaking tally would last the day. “I’ll enjoy it for now,” is what he said.
As it was, Johnson could only – though “only” is hardly the right word – muster a 64.
Republished with permission by Global Golf Post.