Phil Mickelson Leads Open after Stunning 63

US golfer Phil Mickelson putts on the 15th Green during his first round 63 on the opening day of the 2016 British Open Golf Championship at Royal Troon in Scotland on July 14, 2016

Troon (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Former champion Phil Mickelson went clear at the top of the leaderboard at the British Open on Thursday after a stunning eight-under-par first round of 63 at Royal Troon.

The 2013 winner of the Claret Jug came within inches of becoming the first golfer ever to record a 62 in major championship history as his birdie putt at the last licked the cup, just refusing to drop.

“I wanna cry,” Mickelson said. “It was one of the best rounds I’ve ever played and yet I want to shed a tear right now.

“It stinks to have a chance, such a rare opportunity to do something historical like that. I’m just heartbroken.

“To have that putt lip out, that’s going to sting for a while.”

Instead Mickelson becomes only the 28th player to score a round of 63 in a major and only the ninth player to do so at the Open, with the last being Rory McIlroy in 2010.

However, McIlroy’s came at St Andrews, which is a par-72, while Troon is a par-71.

Left-hander Mickelson’s effort was, though, the lowest round at Troon, beating the 64 of Greg Norman in 1989 and Tiger Woods in 1997.

His flawless effort featured eight birdies, including at 16 and 17 in a fantastic late charge, and not a single dropped shot.

Mickelson leads in the clubhouse by three strokes from fellow American Patrick Reed and Germany’s Martin Kaymer.