What Is the Lowest 72-Hole Score in a Major Championship?
Of all the golfers to win one of the four modern major championships — The Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, and The Open Championship — only four can ever say they shot 20-under over the course of 72 holes. Of the four majors, only the U.S. Open hasn’t seen someone finish at 20-under.
Up until 2015, Tiger Woods held the lowest 72-hole score at a major in relation to par, shooting 19-under at The Open Championship in 2000 at St. Andrews. But that record was broken at the 2015 PGA Championship by Jason Day and has since been matched by Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson, and Cameron Smith. Here’s a quick look at these three incredible performances.
Jason Day became the first major championship winner to finish at 20-under at the 2015 PGA Championship
Coming into the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Jason Day had already won two events on the PGA Tour that year. He had finished in the top 10 in each of the previous two major championships, tying for ninth and the U.S. Open and tying for fourth at The Open Championship.
He began his week with a 4-under round of 68 and was one shot better in his second round, firing a 67 to get to 9-under after 36 holes, two back of leader Matt Jones. Day again improved by a stroke in the third round, shooting a 6-under 66 to take a two-shot lead over Jordan Spieth into the final round.
Spieth, looking to win his third major of the year after victories at The Masters and U.S. Open, played solid golf in the final round, shooting a 4-under 68 to finish at 17-under, which wins most majors. But Day was simply too much for anyone to handle that week and closed things out with a 5-under 67 to become the first player ever to finish 20-under in a major championship.
Henrik Stenson shot 20-under at The Open Championship in 2016
Coming into the 2016 edition of The Open Championship, Henrik Stenson had recorded nine top-10 finishes in major championships and finally broke through with a dominating performance at Royal Troon.
He opened his week with a 3-under round of 68 but was still five strokes back of Phil Mickelson, who opened with an 8-under 63. Stenson closed the gap to one with a second-round 65 and followed it up with a third-round 68 to take a one-shot lead into the final round, which would turn out to be one of the most exciting closing rounds in major championship history.
Mickelson played a great round of golf, firing a 6-under round of 65 to finish at 17-under, which, again, is usually good enough to win most majors. But Stenson was better, shooting an eight-under 63 to match (at the time) the lowest round in major championship history. His 264 strokes are tied for the lowest in major championship history.
Dustin Johnson claimed his second major championship by shooting 20-under at the 2020 edition of The Masters
Dustin Johnson came in as the heavy favorite to win the 2020 edition of The Masters, played in November instead of its usual April slot due to COVID-19. In his four previous appearances at Augusta National, he’d finished in the top 10 each time and tied for second in 2019, finishing just one shot behind Tiger Woods.
Tiger, of course, had set the scoring record at The Masters with his historic victory at Augusta in 1997 by shooting 18-under, which Spieth matched in 2015.
DJ put himself on pace to break the record with a 7-under round of 65 and followed it up with a second-round 70 to get to 9-under through 36 holes. He then shot another 65 on Saturday and closed things out with a 4-under 68 to reach the 20-under mark, claiming his first green jacket and a second major championship.
Cameron Smith won his first major championship by shooting 20-under to win the 2022 Open Championship at St. Andrews
One has to hope that the 2022 Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews will be remembered as the one Cameron Smith won, not the one Rory McIlroy lost. McIlroy came in as the heavy favorite and seemed destined to win his fifth major — at least until Smith’s putter got hot on the back nine on Sunday.
Smith opened his week with a solid 5-under round of 67 and followed it up with a blistering 8-under 64 to take a two-shot lead into the weekend. Saturday didn’t go as smoothly as he made some questionable choices on the way to a 1-under 71, which put him four behind McIlroy and Viktor Hovland heading into Sunday’s final round.
The Australian carded two birdies en route to a front-nine 34 but then got white-hot to kick off the back, making five straight birdies. After three solid pars, Smith made his eighth birdie of the day at the 18th for another 64, finishing at 20-under for the week. Cameron Young finished a shot back at 19-under, while Rory finished two back at 18-under.
Stats courtesy of PGATour.com