Phil Mickelson ties major record with 63 at The Open

ByBob Harig ESPN logo
Thursday, July 14, 2016

TROON, Scotland -- Phil Mickelson came within a lip-out of golf history Thursday, shooting an 8-under-par 63 at Royal Troon during the first round of The Open.

Mickelson, 46, who won The Open at Muirfield three years ago, had an 18-footer for birdie at the 18th that appeared to be going in, cut the right lip and spun out. No player has ever shot 62 in a major championship.

"It was one of the best rounds that I've played. I mean, nothing will match that final round at Muirfield, but it was one of the best rounds I've ever played. I was able to take advantage of these conditions, and yet I want to shed a tear right now,'' Mickelson said. "That putt on 18 was an opportunity to do something historical. I knew it, and with a foot to go I thought I had done it. I saw that ball rolling right in the center. I went to go get it, I had that surge of adrenaline that I had just shot 62, and then I had the heartbreak that I didn't and watched that ball lip out. It was, wow, that stings.

"It really stings to have a chance. It's such a rare opportunity to do something historic like that and ... if I had just hit a weak flail-off and never had a chance and left it short, so be it. But this ball was hunting right in the center and didn't go. It was just heartbreaking."

The miss was reminiscent of Mickelson's attempt to shoot 59 at the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open. He had a similar-length putt on the final green of the first round that lipped out.

"This one's going to stay with me for a while because of the historical element of the major championships,'' he said. "There's a lot of guys that have shot 63, but nobody has shot that 62. 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.

"But the 59, I mean, I haven't shot 59 in a tour event, but I have shot 58s and 59s before at other rounds. That 59 in Hawaii for the Grand Slam of Golf back in like '05, I've done that, and I'll have opportunities under the right conditions. Maybe next year's CareerBuilder, if we have perfect weather in Palm Springs, you could shoot 59 there.

"But the opportunity to shoot 62 and be the first one to do it, I just don't think that's going to come around again, and that's why I walk away so disappointed."

Three-time Open champion Jack Nicklaus praised Mickelson's effort, and then recalled his own bid at 62 at the 1980 U.S. Open.

"I watched some of Phil's round today and every time I turned around, he holed a putt," Nicklaus Tweeted. "To play Royal Troon with no bogeys is a great round of golf. Well done, Phil! I almost hate to remind myself of this, but I missed a putt of just a couple feet at Baltusrol in 1980 to miss out on 62. In your case, Phil, you made a beautiful read and putt on that last hole, but got absolutely stone-cold robbed."

Mickelson's 63 is the 28th in major championship history and the ninth at The Open. The last was by Rory McIlroy in 2010 at St. Andrews.

A five-time major champion, Mickelson missed the cut at the Masters and U.S. Open this year. He leads Patrick Reedand Martin Kaymer by 3 strokes.

Americans dominated the leaderboard Thursday. Reed was second at minus-5 after a 66. Zach Johnson,Justin Thomas, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Tony Finauand Billy Horschel followed at 4 under.