Stricker’s in the History Books
By Conor Nagle under PGA Championship

Tunnel vision: Stricker en route to a place in the history books.

Steve Stricker’s first round of seven-under-par doesn’t just about guarantee him a place atop the PGA Championship leaderboard as the tournament heads into its second day, it means he enters the record books as only the 23rd player to shoot 63 in a major championship.

While the Wisconsin native’s fine form didn’t come as a surprise to many, Stricker himself proved to be one of them:

“I came to the course really not expecting too much. I really hadn’t made too many birdies in the three previous practice rounds that I had. You know, and I don’t take a lot of stock in those practice rounds really. But I really felt like I was in trouble coming into this tournament. I really didn’t feel that good on the course.”

In spite of his apprehension, the man considered by many to be the best active player without a major championship blazed out of the blocks with a hat-trick of birdies, and only succeeded in adding to that total, bettering par on the fifteenth, eighteenth, first, and fifth.

His birdie on the demanding par-4 eighteenth was emblematic of the excellence on display throughout his round.

As is typically the case with these things, while the rest of us were on the edge of our seats, wondering if this would be the day we’d see a major championship 62, Stricker himself wasn’t too bothered.

“Well, I don’t think guys talk about [shooting 63], but it’s just a — I don’t know. You know, I haven’t given it much thought. It’s a good start. I am happy to be part of that group. I wish I would have been able to make that putt to be one better than that group of guys. But 63 is a heck of a start, and I’m happy to get off to that start…”

Can you name some of the players who have shot 63?

“No, I can’t.”

Having carded a stunning 63, I think we can forgive him his total lack of historical knowledge… just this once. It reminds me a little of Graeme McDowell winning the US Open last year and admitting to being nearly entirely ignorant of major championship history.

Just as an aside: how do you go about ranking major championship 63s? Does the par of the course enter the reckoning? The perceived value of the major in question?

Conor Nagle