Phil Mickelson lips out historic 62, still dominant at British Open

Phil Mickelson lips out historic 62, still dominant at British Open

Published Nov. 15, 2016 1:57 p.m. ET

The putt for a history-making 62 hit the right edge of the cup, ducked about a quarter of the way down and the rolled around 180 degrees to lip out, ending up about two centimeters from the record books.

Instead, Phil Mickelson will have to be content to merely tie history, leaving that ever-elusive 62 at a major - one that's been flirted with for 40 years, ever since Johnny Miller joined the 63 club at Oakmont in 1973 - open for hunting. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

One missed putt does not obscure the bigger story of the day: Phil Mickelson, now at the age at which Jack Nicklaus won his last Masters and when Old Tom Morris became the oldest champion in British Open history, took advantage of unusually tranquil conditions at Royal Troon to drop a record-tying 63 at the British Open, a mark reached only nine times in the 156 years of the tournament.


In doing so, Lefty set a course record at Royal Troon (previously held by Greg Norman and Tiger Woods) to take a three-shot lead over fellow American Patrick Reed. It's a good omen: Ten of the last 11 British Open champions have been inside the top 10 after the first round and five have been in the top two. That, coupled with the fact that each of the last five Open champs at Royal Troon have been Americans, suggests a good weekend for the red, white and blue.

You know the old adage: You can't win a major on the first day, but you can lose it. Mickelson's 8-under will try to disprove that theory, even though a three-shot cushion on a course that practically embraces triple-bogeys (and will do so even more when the regular British Open weather comes in on Friday) is barely a cushion at all.

Mickelson's round was nothing short of spectacular. For each of the first 10 holes he exchanged par and birdie. Then came three-straight pars capped off by three birdies in the final five holes. He, of course, was one bump of the green from making that four and finally getting that hallowed 62.

Other men have stood over putts on No. 18 at majors with a chance for the mark. Other men have hit the right putt. And other men have seen the ball somehow defy the physics of gravity to stay out of the cup, preserving 63, at least for another day. It's as if the golfing gods won't allow it.

"I don't know how that ball missed," Mickelson told Golf Channel after. "It was perfect speed in the center with a foot to go."

Phil Mickelson can't be concerned with that now. He's got 54 holes to go and while a first-round 62 would have been a great one from the ol' resume, another Claret Jug would be far better.