There aren’t many sports in the world that can come close to matching the sheer amount of history golf is steeped in, as that particular pastime can trace its roots back to the people in Scotland who essentially invented it in the 15th century.
Golf became so popular that James II used his power as the King of Scots to ban it from his realm in 1457, and while his son upheld that ruling after ascending to the throne, James IV had a personal interest in lifting the prohibition on the game he loved in 1502.
50 years later, the archbishop of the town of St. Andrews gave residents the right to play on what is now known as “The Old Course,” the links-style expanse known as “the home of golf” that remains one of the most famous destinations on the planet and a frequent host of the major officially known as “The Open.”
Most golf fans refer to that tournament as “The British Open,” which was first organized all the way back in 1860 over the span of three days on a 12-hole course at Prestwick Golf Club.
The game has certainly come a long way since then, and while plenty of players have been brought to their knees by the fearsome courses that have hosted the event over the years, there are also a few golfers who’ve managed to tame them unlike any other.
What’s the lowest score ever recorded at The British Open?
The British Open has historically required golfers to navigate some impossibly thick rough, cavernous bunkers, rolling greens, and unpredictable weather in their quest to earn the right to hoist the Claret Jug (and possibly use it to consume the two beers it’s able to contain).
Anyone who’s familiar with Jean Van de Velde’s epic collapse on the final hole at Carnoustie in 1999 knows just how easy it is for things to fall apart in an instant, and while the Frenchman may have been unable to conquer the course, the same can’t be said for a couple of guys who had no problem handling everything it threw their way.
What’s the lowest single-round score in the history of The British Open?
You have to be a pretty diehard golf fan to be familiar with Braden Grace, a 35-year-old LIV Golf defector from South Africa who’s racked up a grand total of two wins after turning pro in 2007 and currently occupies the 405th spot on the Official World Golf Rankings.
While his career may leave a bit to be desired, the same can’t be said for what he was able to pull off during the third round of The British Open at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in 2017.
Grace headed into the weekend at +2 for the tournament after posting a 70 and a 74 in his first two rounds, but he found himself skyrocketing up the leaderboard on Moving Day during a blistering performance where he notched eight birdies and ten pars for the 62 that still remains the lowest score ever recorded over 18 holes at the tournament
What’s the lowest overall score in the history of The British Open?
The fact that Grace finished in a tie for sixth (eight strokes behind Jordan Spieth) is a testament to the fairly obvious fact that playing well during a single round isn’t enough to walk away with a victory, but there are two men who’ve managed to go down in history for their consistently exceptional play over the course of four days.
In 2016, Henrik Stenson surpassed the record Tiger Woods set when he posted a -19 over 72 holes at St. Andrews to win his first British Open in 2000 with a -20 at Royal Troon, which remains the mark to beat.
Cameron Smith technically tied the Swede with a -20 of his own at The Old Course in 2021, although it’s worth noting that came at a course with a par of 72 as opposed to the 71 Stenson was dealing with (the latter technically recorded the fewest strokes en route to a victory with 264; Collin Morikawa came close with the 265 stokes he needed to win the Claret Jug at the par-70 Royal St George’s in 2021).
If history has taught us anything, it’s that there’s always a chance someone will be able to step up and give us an even more impressive performance—although they’ll certainly have their work cut out for them.