Where Does Phil Mickleson's Near-Miss 63 Stand in Major History?
By Jaime Diaz
Troon, Scotland — There was a sense of déjà vu—and perhaps the curse of Johnny Miller—in the excruciating lip-out that kept Phil Mickelson from becoming the first golfer to shoot 62 in a major championship.
There have now been 28 63s, the first—and still the best of them (as he will let you know)—shot by Miller in the final round in his comeback victory at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Mickelson was also victimized by a slow, 18th hole lip-out that kept him from shooting 59 at the 2015 Phoenix Open. It makes the 46-year-old lefthander perhaps the unluckiest of golf’s low-round shooters. But that doesn’t mean Lefty came the nearest to 62 in a major. Based purely on personal opinion, here’s a top-five ranking of the closest such calls.
1-Greg Norman, 1986 British Open, second round After knocking his short-iron approach to a mere 28 feet from the hole on the 18th at Turnberry, the Shark was thinking 61. Instead, he ran his putt five feet by and missed the comebacker on the high side. “I thought I was going to make the putt, which was the thinking that got me so far under par,” Norman said. “I didn’t think about my score on the second putt, I just missed it.”
2-Jack Nicklaus, 1980 U.S. Open, first round Nicklaus had only a three-footer for birdie on the par-5 18th at Baltusrol. The great closer, known for his propensity for birdieing the last hole, hit a weak putt that missed on the low side. “I just totally choked,” Nicklaus admitted to Dave Anderson of the New York Times last year.
3-Tiger Woods, 2007 PGA Championship, second round Woods only had 16 feet for a birdie on the final hole at Southern Hills and hit a seemingly perfect putt that dove deep into the hole before spinning out on the right edge. He would go on to win, and refer to his second-round score as 62½.
4-Phil Mickelson, 2016 British Open, first round Mickelson’s final 18-footer Thursday at Troon was rolling more slowly than Woods’ putt, but didn’t catch quite as much of the hole.
5-Nick Price, 1986 Masters, third round Price gets points for posting his 63 on a par 72. He had 30 feet on the final hole, and his aggressive putt power lipped out. “Bobby Jones’ hand came up and popped it out,” said Price.