The weather might have been hot but it turned out to be Thomas Björn who was really sizzling at Baltusrol as The European Tour member set the US PGA Championship alight. The Dane became only the 20th player in history to shoot 63 in a Major Championship and in the process propelled himself firmly into contention for the Wanamaker Trophy.
Björn started the day ten shots adrift of overnight leader Phil Mickelson, but his sensational seven under par effort moved him to five under par 205 for the Championship and right onto the coat-tails of the leaders as they began their third round.
The winner of eight titles on The European Tour International Schedule had eight birdies in total with only one dropped shot at the seventh, where an errant tee shot found the punishing Baltusrol rough. But apart from that, Björn was flawless.
He began his birdie barrage on the second hole where a three iron tee shot was followed by a nine iron approach to four feet. Further birdies followed at the fourth and fifth to help him to the turn in two under par 32.
But it was turning for home that the winner of The Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters in May truly excelled and produced golf he himself described as “picture perfect.” Birdie putts dropped from 25 and 12 feet at the tenth and 11th respectively before two exquisite nine iron approaches at the 14th and 15th yielded two further threes.
A brave up and down from the bunker saved par at the 16th before he again pitched and putted for par at the monstrous 650 yard 17th. Even with history beckoning, the Dane remained ice cool in temperatures which touched 100 degrees, to find the back of the green at the par five 18th in two from where he two putted for birdie four and 63.
“Pretty much everything went right for me today,” he said. “It was one of those days where I got off to a good start and then on the next few holes it becomes a little easier. I hit a couple of poorish tee shots but got away with them and I guess sometimes you have to do that.
“I’ve worked hard on my golf swing over the last two weeks. I’ve been making some big changes and today they felt comfortable for the first time in a long time and it was nice to go out and shoot that kind of number.
“In many ways this was a bonus but I am definitely seeing the results of the hard work and I am seeing that I am getting back on track. What I need to do now is to go back to the hotel and get relaxed and get ready for tomorrow.”
As well as tying the record for Major Championship scoring, Björn’s 63 also matched the Baltusrol Golf Club record set jointly by Tom Weiskopf and Jack Nicklaus in the 1980 US Open, the two scorecards spotted by the Dane on the locker room wall earlier in the week.
“No matter where you go in the golfing world, there’s always a wall with Jack Nicklaus on it somewhere,” he joked, adding. “I don’t shoot very low rounds very often as I’ve always been a guy who has enjoyed playing tough courses. But that is certainly a good list to be a part of.”