The 10 Major Scores of 63 That Could Have Been 62


What has changed in the world in the last 43 years? Only everything. In golf, persimmon woods and balata balls are laughably obsolete. Yet the eight-under 63 shot by Johnny Miller to win the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont using those antiques has never been surpassed.

Since Miller Time, 26 more rounds of 63 have been posted in men’s major championship golf. Greg Norman and Vijay Singh have done it twice. But the game is still waiting for the first barrier-breaking 62.

Here’s a ranking of the 10 best 63s shot in men’s major championship golf, factoring in scoring conditions and historical significance.


1973 U.S. Open, final round

Miller is still the only player to shoot his 63 in the final round and win. He hit every green in regulation. Rain had softened the course, but only three other players broke 70 that day. He three-putted the 8th for his only bogey and sharply lipped out birdie putts on the last two holes. It “easily could’ve been 60,” said playing partner Miller Barber.


1986 Masters, third round

Price bogeyed the opening hole, then reeled off 10 birdies despite not reaching any of the par-5s in two. His 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th green circled the cup and spun out. Price’s nine-under 63 broke the course record of 64, which was set by Lloyd Mangrum and had stood for 46 years. Price finished fifth.


1984 PGA Championship, second round

Shoal Creek was seven years old when Player, 48, lit it up with 10 birdies. The next-best score that day was 68. Player, who finished second, missed a five-foot par putt at the 12th and birdie putts of eight and 12 feet at the 16th and 18th holes.


1982 PGA Championship, first round

It was 102° at Southern Hills, and Floyd was equally hot. Starting at the 6th hole, he posted nine consecutive 3s and shot seven under on a day when only 15 of 150 players broke par and the next-best score was 66. Floyd would win by three.


1980 U.S. Open, first round

Nicklaus bogeyed the 1st hole at Baltusrol but poured in eight birdies in an attention-getting performance that sparked his victory and a surge in JACK IS BACK! headlines. He chipped to three feet on the final green but missed the putt for birdie and 62. Back at the course in 2005, Nicklaus recalled the miss: “I’m still mad about it.”


1980 U.S. Open, first round

You can’t discount a 63 just because a second player shot it the same day. After Weiskopf and Nicklaus signed for their record-tying scores, John Schroeder joked, “The USGA is going to be planting trees all night.” Like Nicklaus, Weiskopf also failed to birdie the par-5 18th. Was money a factor? Golf Magazine was offering $50,000 to anyone who broke 63 in the Open—$5,000 less than the winner’s check. “I never thought about the 50 thousand,” Weiskopf said, “until the 18th tee.” Weiskopf didn’t break 75 the next three rounds.


1996 Masters, first round

The Shark was even par when he stepped to the 7th tee, then birdied nine of the last 12 holes. He enjoyed a bit of good fortune at the 18th—his 25-foot birdie putt looked off-line until it hit a spike mark and dived into the cup. This round is little remembered because Norman famously lost a six-shot lead on Sunday.


1986 British Open, second round

Norman signed for a seven-under total, four strokes lower than anyone else at Turnberry that day. He missed an 18-foot eagle putt at the 17th and three-putted the 5th and the 18th holes. The 63 gave him the cushion he rode to his first major championship during a year in which he held or shared the lead in all four majors after 54 holes.


2007 PGA Championship, second round

With its tree-lined fairways and awkward doglegs, Southern Hills seemed an unlikely candidate to get overpowered, but Woods did just that. His 15-foot birdie try on the 18th green dipped into the cup, then impossibly spun out. Woods, who won by two, called the round a “62-and-a-half” and added with appropriate understatement, “That would’ve been a nice little record to have.”


2010 British Open, first round

On a rare windless morning at St. Andrews, McIlroy took advantage with a bogey-free round on the Old Course. He drove the green at the 352-yard 9th and made a 15-footer for eagle and birdied the next three holes as well as the short par-4 18th. He rued a missed five-footer at the 17th when the thought of 62 crossed his mind. “That’s probably why I missed,” said McIlory, who shot 80 the next day in gusting winds and eventually tied for third.

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