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Every time anyone comes close to posting 63 in a men's golf major championship, Johnny Miller becomes a part of the story.

Record-setting Branden Grace has captured the British Open clubhouse lead on a day of sensation at Royal Birkdale.

"What a special day".

"I was so in the zone".

We've been screaming out loud - seniors like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Greg Norman and myself - for something to be done about the ball.

"It was a special round from the start and when you get it going you just want to make even more birdies. If my caddie knew he never said anything; good on him!"

A 70 and 74 in the opening two rounds left him a shot inside the cut, but no one was prepared for what he did going out early in the third round at Royal Birkdale and taking advantage of the easier scoring conditions.

Grace's performance was textbook.

South Korea's Hyo-Joo Kim holds the record for the lowest round in any major with 61 at the women's Evian Championship in 2014.

Grace, 29, finished his round before second-round leader Jordan Spieth of the United States had even teed off.

Now Grace is in the thick of the race to the Claret Jug. Of the 10 63s, there was one past year by reigning champion Henrik Stenson, and Phil Mickelson lipped out with a putt for a 62.

American Justin Thomas was the latest addition to that list at last month's U.S. Open. Jodie Mudd shot 63 here at Birkdale in 1991.

Grace drained a 15-footer at the first, an 18-footer at the ninth and had a tap-in birdie at the par-5 17th.

"It's something I really enjoyed and something I'll remember forever, definitely", said the South African golfer after signing his card. His best finish in 21 previous majors was third place in the 2015 PGA Championship.

For more than 40 years, 63 has been the magic number in a major championship.

Branden Grace admitted he was unaware he had made major history after his record-breaking third round at The Open.

"My whole thing on the 18th was trying just not to make bogey, " he said. But obviously I knocked in the two-footer or three-footer [for par].

"Zack came up and said, 'You're in the history books, ' " Grace said.

Played under partly-sunny, nearly wind-free skies - a day after wind and rain greeted the field - a softened Birkdale remained in ideal playing condition with turf as pristine as any Grace has enjoyed in six previous Opens.

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