Rory McIlroy crossed the Swilcan Bridge Thursday, but couldn't quite cross the bridge to a new record for scoring. (Getty Images)
Who can cross the bridge from 63 to 62?
Rory McIlroy posted the 24th 63 in major championship history on Thursday, yet no one has ever shot a 62 in a major. When Johnny Miller posted his 63 at the 1973 U.S. Open, few would have guessed it would remain the standard of excellence for so long.
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (PA) -- Records are there to be broken -- and in golf it surely is time that one in particular is.
When Johnny Miller shot a closing 63 to win the 1973 U.S. Open, few would have thought that 37 years later nobody would have beaten it -- not just in that event, but at any of the four major championships.
But that is the case at the British Open at St. Andrews. There have been 23 more 63s, including Rory McIlroy’s 9-under jewel on the Old Course Thursday morning, but nothing better -- and certainly not a single round of all the thousands played that has threatened to do what Paul Goydos did last Thursday in Illinois. Goydos, one of Corey Pavin's assistants for the Ryder Cup in October, joined Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval in scoring 59 on the PGA Tour.
"I kind of realized if I birdied the last three holes I could shoot 59," said Goydos afterward. "They talk about you don't talk to the pitcher when he's got a no-hitter going blah-blah-blah, but the reality is in that situation that's a pretty good challenge to yourself. If you're playing this well, let's enjoy it. Let's try to make the most of it and have a good time.
"I think trying to ignore what you're shooting and 'one shot at a time' you kind of lose sense of the fun of what we're trying to do,” he explained. "I kind of decided 'let's have a good time and see what happens'."
It paid off. He birdied the 16th and 17th and then left himself with a seven-foot putt to achieve the magic figure -- a figure not yet managed on the European Tour.
"I was probably as nervous as I've been over a putt in my life. And it would have gone in a thimble,” he said. “Don't know why -- that's just the way it went."
Following Goydos' round and with it being only two months ago that 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa had his incredible 58 in Japan, can a major 62 really be that difficult? We are finding out again.
Nobody can say for certain it is impossible at the Home of Golf, especially after McIlroy’s display. Curtis Strange managed a 62 in the Dunhill Cup there in 1987 and Brian Davis (2003) and Graeme McDowell (2004) have achieved it on the Old Course in the Dunhill Links Championship.
But in the British Open, when the course set-up is often much more difficult, 63 is the lowest so far on this hallowed turf. Before McIlroy, Paul Broadhurst posted that number back in 1990 -- one of eight in the championship's history, but one the 44-year-old Englishman can claim to be the among greatest of them all.
Why? Because his and McIlroy’s are the only 9-under-par rounds the British Open has ever seen.
Turnberry, Royal Birkdale and Sandwich were all par 70s when Mark Hayes (1977), Greg Norman (1986), Jodie Mudd (1991), Payne Stewart and Nick Faldo (both 1993) handed in their 63s, while Muirfield was a par 71 for Isao Aoki's one in 1980.
Norman had the best chance to go lower. He had a putt for a 61 after a quite magnificent display at Turnberry 24 years ago, but with a moment of history beckoning he not only missed it, but missed the next one as well.
At least he went on to take the title then. He also shot 63 in the 1996 Masters, but that was the week the "Great White Shark" imploded on the final day and went from six clear of his great rival Faldo to five behind.
Vijay Singh is the only other player to have two 63s in majors, but did not win either the 1993 PGA Championship or 2003 U.S. Open.
In fact, of all the players who share the record for the lowest round, only five -- Miller in 1973, Jack Nicklaus in the 1980 U.S. Open, Ray Floyd at the 1982 PGA Championship, Norman in the 1996 British Open and Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship three years ago -- have also lifted the trophy.
Here is a list of the rounds of 63 in majors:
Nick Price, Augusta National 1986
Greg Norman, Augusta National 1996
Johnny Miller, Oakmont 1973
Jack Nicklaus, Baltusrol 1980
Tom Weiskopf, Baltusrol 1980
Vijay Singh, Olympia Fields 2003
Mark Hayes, Turnberry 1977
Isao Aoki, Muirfield 1980
Greg Norman, Turnberry 1986
Paul Broadhurst, St. Andrews 1990
Jodie Mudd, Royal Birkdale 1991
Nick Faldo, Sandwich 1993
Payne Stewart, Sandwich 1993
Rory McIlroy, St. Andrews 2010
Bruce Crampton, Firestone 1975
Raymond Floyd, Southern Hills 1982
Gary Player, Shoal Creek 1984
Vijay Singh, Inverness 1993
Michael Bradley, Riviera 1995
Brad Faxon, Riviera 1995
Jose Maria Olazabal, Valhalla 2000
Mark O'Meara, Atlanta 2001
Thomas Bjorn, Baltusrol 2005
Tiger Woods, Southern Hills 2007