ROON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Phil Mickelson may be leading the British Open but said he felt like breaking down in tears after being cruelly denied the first-ever round of 62 in major championship history on Thursday.
The affable American, who won the 2013 British Open at Muirfield, played flawless golf from beginning to end in the first round at Troon and had a birdie putt at the last to make 62.
Agonisingly, the ball lipped the cup, just refusing to drop. Instead Mickelson had to settle for becoming the 28th player to score 63 in a major, the ninth to do so at The Open.
His round was also a course record, beating the previous best of 64 by Greg Norman in 1989 and Tiger Woods in 1997.
‘’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 and I was able to take advantage of these conditions, and yet I want to shed a tear right now,’’ said the 46-year-old, who at eight-under leads the field by three strokes.
‘’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 centre.
‘’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.’’
Mickelson, who leads from compatriot Patrick Reed and Germany’s Martin Kaymer on five-under, was playing with Lee Westwood and Ernie Els on a glorious day at Troon.
His flawless round featured not a single dropped shot and eight birdies, four on the front nine and four on the back nine.
He birdied the long 16th, after a brilliant shot out of a greenside bunker, and the short 17th, to set up that tantalising attempt at the record.