The 18-Hole Scoring Record in the U.S. Open

What is the lowest 18-hole score ever recorded in the U.S. Open golf tournament — the lowest round in tournament history? That score is 63, and the first time it was shot remains one of the most-famous rounds of golf. But it has also been matched several times since.

Following are all the golfers who've posted a 63, the record-low score, in the U.S. Open. After that we'll see the progression of the U.S. Open's 18-hole scoring record: each golfer who lowered the record until it reached the current 63.

As for that first 63, it was scored by Johnny Miller in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. Miller was tied for 13th place, six strokes off the lead, after three rounds of play. He was an afterthought as the final round began.

But in that final round, Miller opened with four consecutive birdies, and went on to birdie the ninth, 11th, 12th, 13th and 15 holes. He hit all 18 greens in regulation and wound up winning by one stroke over runner-up John Schlee. Miller had a putt for 62 on the last green, but his ball lipped out. It wasn't just the first 63 in the U.S. Open, but the first 63 scored in any of the men's professional major championships.

The 63s: Lowest Rounds in the U.S. Open

These golfers share the U.S. Open single-round tournament scoring record of 63 (listed chronologically):
  • Johnny Miller, 1973, final round, Oakmont Country Club (par 71) in Oakmont, Pennsylvania
  • Jack Nicklaus, 1980, first round, Baltusrol (Lower Course, par 70) in Springfield, New Jersey
  • Tom Weiskopf, 1980, first round, Baltusrol (Lower Course, par 70) in Springfield, New Jersey
  • Vijay Singh, 2003, second round, Olympia Fields Country Club (North Course, par 70) in Olympia Fields, Illinois
  • Justin Thomas, 2017, third round, Erin Hills (par 72) in Erin, Wisconsin
  • Tommy Fleetwood, 2018, fourth round, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70) in Southampton, New York
Nicklaus and Wieskopf's 63s were in the first round (of the same tournament), Singh's in the second, Thomas' in the third, and those of Miller and Fleetwood happened in the final round. That makes the U.S. Open ringer score 63-63-63-63—252.

Putting them in order based on strokes under par results in this ranking:

  • 9-under: Thomas, 2017
  • 8-under: Miller, 1973
  • 7-under: Nicklaus, 1980
  • 7-under: Weiskopf, 1980
  • 7-under: Singh, 2003
  • 7-under: Fleetwood, 2018
Of the six golfers so far who've carded 63s in a U.S. Open, only Miller and Nicklaus won the tournament in which their 63 happened.

Progression of 18-Hole U.S. Open Scoring Record

The first U.S. Open in 1895 was comprised of four, nine-hole rounds. The lowest 18-hole score in the second U.S. Open was 74, so that is where we start. These are the golfers who lowered the previous tournament records for low round, until reaching today's record, the first 63:
  • 74 — James Foulis, second (final) round, 1896
  • 73 — Gilbert Nichols, third round, 1902
  • 72 — Willie Anderson, Alexander Campbell, fourth round, 1904
  • 68 — David Hunter, first round, 1909
  • 67 — Willie Macfarlane, second round, 1925
  • 66 — Gene Sarazen, fourth round, 1932
  • 64 — Lee Mackey Jr., first round, 1950
  • 63 — Johnny Miller, fourth round, 1973
Easily the least-known names on the list are those of David Hunter and Lee Mackey Jr. They have some things in common: Neither won any tournament resembling a PGA Tour event. Both lowered the record by multiple strokes (Hunter from 72 to 68, Mackey from 66 to 64). Both blew up in their next round and finished outside the Top 20.

Hunter followed his first-round 68 in 1909 with an 84 in Round 2, 16 strokes worse. He finished the 1909 U.S. Open in a tie for 30th place. In the 1950 U.S. Open, Mackey followed his Round 1 64 with a second-round 81, 17 strokes worse. He finished tied for 25th.

Foulis, Anderson, Macfarlane, Sarazen and Miller all won the tournaments in which they lowered the record.

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