Robert Streb has just become the latest player to shoot 63 in a major. He was thrilled to be tied for the lead with Jimmy Walker, who shot a 4-under-par 66. On the far end of the course in Springfield, he holed a 20-foot birdie putt on his last hole, the par-3 ninth. Adding to the challenge was the wet course, soaked with rain. With that shot, Streb became the 28th player with a 63 in a major. It occurred during the third round. He was the third person to shoot a 63 in a PGA tournament the past two weeks. The first two were Phil Mickelson, first round, and Henrik Stenson, fourth round, at the British Open. Streb was openly happy to become a part of that group.
“Happy to join the club that seems to be ever growing.”
They were at 131, matching the 36-hole record first set by Hal Sutton in 1983 at Riviera and then repeated by Jason Dufner in 2013 at Oak Hill, according to a report by ESPN. Robert Streb badly missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole and was motivated to step it up for the ninth. He knew how important it was that he get it right. Most of the crowd was at the par-5 closing holes at Baltusrol and it was quite entertaining. Streb said it was “pretty noisy” for the “15 people” that were out there.
Jimmy Walker was appearing as though he would set the 36-hole mark when he was at 10 under with two par 5’s left. Unfortunately, he hit into the hospitality area well left of the 17th and scrambled for par. His tee shot missed, barely, and ended up in the water on the 18th, for a bogey. In spite of it, Jimmy Walker knew he was tied at the halfway point of a major.
“It’s going to be a new experience, and it will be fun. You still have to go perform. Doesn’t matter what tournament it is.”
Jason Day, the defending champion, dropped to even par with a double bogey on the seventh. Day then went on to seven birdies over his next eight holes. Two of them were shot from 18 feet and one of them from 35 feet. Day was actually on the verge of a shot at 63 until he hooked his tee shot to the base of the hospitality are on the 17th. He ended up pushing a driving iron into the right rough on the 18th, and settled for pars at both for a 65. At that point, he was feeling good at three shots behind going on into the weekend with his name high on the leaderboard. Had he made it, he would’ve been in good company with Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back PGA champions since the 1950s.
Emiliano Grilo joined Day at 7-under-par 133. Grillo, from Argentina, knew his hard work on his putting at Baltusrol was worth the effort. He made five birdies in a 7-hole stretch on the back nine, but didn’t do as well on the front and had to take a 67. This is all a new experience for him, as he has never even contended in a major. He said he had “never been in this situation,” and was “not afraid of it.”
Stenson, the British Open champion who made eagle on the 18th at the turn, polished off another 67. He was trying to match Ben Hogan as the only players to win two straight majors at the age of 40, but was four shots behind. Mickelson was the one who pulled it off, to the joy of fans. He got off to a rough start, even sending a tee shot so far left that it went off the property and bounced onto Shunpike Road and down Baltusrol Way. It finished out of bounds and he had to push to make a triple bogey. He played hard the rest of the day and managed to pull it off on the 18th with a birdie for a 70. Mickelson acknowledged that he thought that was the worst start to any player’s round. But then someone told him that Nicolas Colsaerts piped two over the fence and made 8. He admitted he was struggling in managing his expectations, and not playing as relaxed as he might have.
Twelve players were separated by five shots in a very entertaining day. Robert Streb ended up being the biggest surprise of the day, becoming the fourth player with a 63 at Baltusrol. The previous players were Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf in the opening round of the 1980 U.S. Open, and Thomas Bjorn in the 2005 PGA Championship. Streb hadn’t been top 10 on the PGA tour since last year when he tied for 1oth. But then he managed to polish up his swing to birdie the last four holds last week in the Canadian Open, just making the cut. Now, at Baltusrol, he’s set a new high for himself.
According to Robert Streb’s official PGA Tour Profile, his dream foursome includes his dad, his brother, and Arnold Palmer. His favorite course is The Olympic Club and he would like to play Cypress Point and Pine Valley. He claims his favorite moment in golf was winning his first PGA Tour professional start, the 2015 McGladrey Classic. Now that he’s shot a 63 at PGA and tied for the lead with Jimmy Walker, Robert Streb has made history and is continuing a promising career.
[Photo by Vladimir Hodac/Shutterstock images]