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History of The Open

Low Open rounds


Branden Grace stands alone with a 62 at Royal Birkdale

Branden Grace acknowledges the crowd after shooting the first 62 in The Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

He might not have got his hands on the Claret Jug, but Jon Rahm left his mark on this year’s Open by shooting the Championship’s lowest 18-hole score at Royal Liverpool.

The world number three carded a 63 on a scintillating Saturday to beat the previous Hoylake low score by two strokes.

It proved to be another memorable landmark for the 2023 edition of golf’s original Championship alongside Brian Harman’s maiden major triumph and Travis Smyth’s hole-in-one on the new 17th hole.

And it allowed Rahm to become just the 13th player to have scored 63 or lower in a single round at a post-War Open.

Here we take a look at the lowest 18-hole totals at each of The Open venues since 1920.

Royal Liverpool: 63 – Jon Rahm (2023)

“That's the best round I've played on a links golf course ever,” said Rahm after carding his historic 63 at Hoylake.

The two-time major winner was 12 shots off the lead coming into the Saturday but sank eight birdies, including four in a row from the 9th, to catapult himself into second place.

While Rahm was unable to maintain that level during a storm-hit final round, his one-under Sunday ensured he finished in a tie for second place.

Royal Portrush: 63 – Shane Lowry (2019)

A sensational record-breaking Saturday was the key to Shane Lowry’s capture of the Claret Jug on home soil.

The Offaly man had entered the weekend tied for the lead with American J.B. Holmes. But Lowry surged four shots clear following a stunning 63, a new course record following Portrush’s remodelling in 2016.

Like Rahm, Lowry found eight birdies during a blemish-free afternoon and hit 17 out of 18 greens in regulation.


Royal Birkdale: 62 – Branden Grace (2017)

Branden Grace has ‘62’ engraved on his irons as a reminder of his remarkable round at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

The South African became the first man to reach that record number in a major championship, and was joined by both Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele following their heroics at this year’s US Open.

Twelve players had hit a 63 at The Open before Grace set a new target on his way to finishing T6, eight strokes behind Champion Golfer Jordan Spieth.

Royal Troon: 63 – Henrik Stenson & Phil Mickelson (2016)

The Open heads back to Royal Troon in 2024; and if it’s anything like the last time it was staged there then we are in for a feast of golfing brilliance.

Records tumbled during an unforgettable weekend in Ayrshire.

Eventual Champion Golfer Henrik Stenson and 2013 victor Phil Mickelson played out a final-day battle for the ages, prompting comparisons with the the fabled ‘Duel In The Sun’ of 1977.

Mickelson flew out of the blocks, sinking putts from everywhere on his way to a 63. A 20-footer on 18 agonisingly lipped out to prevent him from becoming the first man to card a 62 in a major.

“It was one of the best rounds I’ve ever played and yet I want to shed a tear right now,” is how Mickelson summed it up in his post-round press conference.

Mickelson was in fine fettle all weekend, and in any other year a Sunday 65 may have been enough to claim victory. But his weekend playing partner Stenson carded a 63 of his own; in turn setting a new 72-hole Open record of 20-under-par.

Justin Rose during The Open in 2018

Carnoustie: 64 – Justin Rose (2018), Steve Stricker, Richard Green (2007)

Justin Rose shot to fame when he finished fourth at The Open as a 17-year-old amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998.

That weekend included a second-round 66 that got everyone talking. Rose has only bettered that 66 once at The Open; at Carnoustie in 2018 when his Saturday 64 helped him finish in a tie for second place behind Francesco Molinari.

Rose had equalled the Carnoustie tally set by Steve Stricker during the third round in 2007 – only to be matched by Richard Green the very next day.

Rory McIlroy

St Andrews: 63 – Rory McIlroy (2010), Paul Broadhurst (1990)

Rory McIlroy had served notice of his potential when he was leading amateur at The Open in 2007.

His ascension continued at St Andrews three years later when he equalled the then-Open record of 63. It was the second 63 recorded at St Andrews, the eighth in all Opens but the first in an opening round.

The only other 63 in an Open at St Andrews came from England’s Paul Broadhurst on his way to finishing T12 in 1990.

Royal Lytham & St Annes: 64 – Tom Lehman (1996)

Tom Lehman became the first American professional to win The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes when he tasted victory at the course in 1996.

And he is the only man to have hit a 64 there in an Open.

That score came in the third round of his triumphant year which sent him six shots clear of the field. It also helped Lehman set a record 54-hole total of 198, a record which stood until Lowry beat it by one in 2019.

Royal St George’s: 63 – Nick Faldo, Payne Stewart (1993)

With an in-form Greg Norman preventing Nick Faldo from claiming a fourth Claret Jug, the Englishman was still able to add to his catalogue of Open landmarks by setting the low score at Royal St George’s in 1993.

That 63 allowed Faldo to share the lead with Corey Pavin at halfway but they were eventually caught by The Great White Shark.

Payne Stewart equalled Faldo’s low score in the final round, launching the American into a tie for 12th place.

Henry Cotton (left) congratulates Mark Hayes after the American shot the first 63 in The Open in 1977

Turnberry: 63 – Greg Norman (1986), Mark Hayes (1977)

Turnberry was the stage for arguably the greatest golf showdown of them all; the ‘Duel In The Sun’ of 1977.

While that denouement between the iconic figures of Jack Nicklaus and five-time Champion Tom Watson will go down in history, there was another landmark event on the South Ayrshire track that year; The Open’s first-ever 63.

It was achieved in the second round by American Mark Hayes and was just the third 63 to be shot in any major.

Meanwhile, Norman led all four of the majors after 54 holes in 1986, a feat dubbed the “Saturday Slam”. But the only one he actually won was The Open.

The Australian matched Hayes’s mark of 63 in round two, helping to offset a pair of 74s either side.

Isao Aoki during The Open in 1980

Muirfield: 63 – Isao Aoki (1980)

Isao Aoki’s third-round 63 in 1980 was only the second ever recorded at The Open – and the first at Muirfield.

The Japanese star, who was runner-up to Nicklaus at the US Open at Baltusrol a few weeks earlier, wrote his name into the history of golf’s original Championship with nine threes and nine fours.

Arthur Havers, the Champion Golfer of 1923

Prince’s: 68 – Arthur Havers (1932)

The great Gene Sarazen won the only Open to be staged at Prince’s, the course next door to Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent.

The American won by five strokes from Macdonald Smith and became the third Champion Golfer after Ted Ray and Bobby Jones to lead outright after every round.

Sarazen hit a 69 in round two and that was bettered just once all week; by 1923 Champion Arthur Havers (above) the next day. That score helped the Englishman finish third, his second-best performance in the Championship.

Royal Cinque Ports: 71 – George Duncan, Len Holland (1920)

This was the first Open to be staged after WWI and the first under the permanent administration of The R&A.

It was won by George Duncan, who found himself 13 strokes behind at the halfway stage.

Duncan opened with a pair of unremarkable 80s, but his fortunes changed after he purchased a new driver from the Exhibition Tent ahead of his third round where he carded a 71, the joint-lowest score of the week alongside Len Holland who led briefly during the third round.