Thursday, July 14, 2016

63s in majors don't typically translate into major victories

145th Open Championship - Day One

With a foot to go, it seemed that Phil Mickelson’s putt to shoot the first 62 in men’s major championship history would disappear. Then, an unexpected twist in the line left the ball catching the edge of the hole and missing.

It was a 63. It’s special, certainly, but not unique. A 63 had been shot in the British Open eight other times. There had been a total of 27 other rounds of 63 in the major championships.

“There’s a lot of guys that have shot 63, but nobody has shot that 62,” Mickelson said after the round. “That would have been really something special. I’m just not going to have opportunities like that to do that. So to have that putt lip out, that’s going to sting for a while.”

A few years ago, Mickelson had a similar putt for a piece of history. In the first round of the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open, Mickelson had a birdie putt on the final hole at TPC Scottsdale to shoot the then-sixth 59 in PGA Tour history. That putt seemed in the heart, too, until it wasn’t. He shot a 60 that day to carry a four-stroke lead over five players into the second round. In the end, he won by that margin at 28-under 256.

The question now is if Mickelson can turn what he termed a “heart-breaking” 63 at Royal Troon into a second Claret Jug and a sixth major title? If the other 27 times a player has shot 63 in a major is any guide, the odds aren’t on Mickelson’s side.

Only six times has a player shot 63 in any round of a major and gone on to win. It’s only happened once in the British Open, when Greg Norman shot 63 in the second round at Turnberry. That year, Norman had the Saturday Slam, carrying the 54-hole lead in all four majors that year. The Open was the only one he finished off that year.

However, two of those six wins came among the seven occasions someone has led a major championship with a 63 in Round 1. Jack Nicklaus opened the 1980 U.S. Open at Balustrol with 63. He won. Raymond Floyd opened the 1982 PGA at Southern Hills with 63 and took the Wanamaker home.

Greg Norman kicked off the 1996 Masters with 63. He should have won.

So, 63 means something, but it isn’t unique and it isn’t a harbinger of an inevitable win.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.


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