These Are The 10 Best Rounds In The History Of Professional Golf (Not Just In The Majors) And I Won't Be Persuaded Otherwise...

These rounds of golf still make you shake your head in disbelief. Each one is quite remarkable, and for different reasons

tiger woods, ye yang and annika sorenstam montage
Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam and YE Yang feature in our ten best rounds
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What constitutes a great round of golf? There have been some truly remarkable ones recorded in recent times: a 57 from Cristobal del Solar in a Korn Ferry Tour event; a 58 from Bryson DeChambeau at LIV Golf Greenbrier; and Joaquin Niemann went sub 60 at LIV Golf Mayakoba. The list goes on. 

Whilst there’s no denying that these three super low ones were anything but remarkable, as was Jim Furyk’s 58 at the 2016 Travelers Championship, the greatest ever rounds can’t just be defined as the lowest. Absolutely not. In fact, one of the best rounds ever compiled was a 71 that didn’t contain one single birdie.

We’ve put our heads together and come up what we believe to be the 10 best rounds in the history of golf. You may well think one or two are missing, although just like a good old best golf courses debate, it is of course subjective. So, in no particular order…

Tiger Woods, 2008 US Open, Torrey Pines, 70

Tiger Woods 2008 US Open

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“Expect anything different?” asked NBC’s Dan Hicks, as Woods holed a 12-footer for birdie on the 18th to force a Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate. Given what was at stake, it was one of the best putts ever witnessed. Woods was a broken man, too, his left knee becoming increasingly more painful throughout the final round (it required extensive surgery immediately after the championship). “It was Superman stuff,” said Dottie Pepper. “One of the greatest achievements in the history of sports.”

David Duval, 1999, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, PGA West/Palmer course, 59

David Duval 59

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When the world number one broke 60 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, he became just the third player to do so in a PGA Tour event (others have since joined what is still a pretty exclusive club). He would later describe it as “the easiest round of golf I ever played”. We think we understand where he’s coming from – basically everything just clicked and happened on autopilot. The American made 11 birdies and the most dramatic of eagles, which came at the final hole. The longest putt that he made? 10 feet. That’s how dialled in he was.

Johnny Miller, 1973, US Open, Oakmont Country Club, 63

Johnny Miller

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For many, Johnny Miller’s final-round 63 at the 1973 US Open is golf’s greatest ever round. The American was the first player to shoot a 63 in a Major Championship – and it came at Oakmont in Pennsylvania, which is widely regarded as one of the toughest golf courses in America. How tough? Oakmont had held the US Open on four previous occasions. Of the 614 golfers who teed it up in those tournaments, only three finished under par. A key part of his success that day was his 2-iron – for Miller was one of the game's best-ever ball strikers.

Nick Faldo, 1987, The Open, Muirfield, 71

Nick Faldo best rounds ever

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Nick Faldo trailed Paul Azinger by a shot on a grey Sunday in East Lothian, and he fell further behind playing “strict par golf”. He stayed patient – and it worked. When the Englishman made sand saves on the 7th, 8th and 10th, it was clear that this was a man on a mission – he would not budge. With a crosswind blowing in off the Firth of Forth, the 18th was a brute. Faldo hit a controlled fade with a 3-wood, which left him 186 yards for his approach. His 5-iron came up 40 feet short, but another par (his 18th) would prove enough to secure the Claret Jug.

Henrik Stenson, 2016, The Open, Royal Troon, 63

Henrik Stenson 2016 Open

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This was an Open for the ages, a final day reminiscent of ‘The Duel in the Sun’ between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Turnberry in 1977. Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson stormed clear of the field, and traded blow after blow, neither player backing down. Stenson's final-round of 63 matched the lowest round in a Major at the time. The Ice Man’s finished on 20-under-par, with Mickelson three back and third another 11 shots adrift. It was an exhibition, as the Swede put on a masterclass with his irons and that trusty 3-wood (the putter was hot, too).   

Annika Sorenstam, 2001, Standard Register Ping, Moon Valley Country Club, 59

Annika Sorenstam

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The Swede accomplished a first in women’s golf by shooting a 59 during the second round of the Standard Register Ping in Phoenix in 2001. She started with eight straight birdies, before, which she admitted later, becoming nervous with what was beginning to unfold. A par before the turn settled her down. Further gains followed at her 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th holes, which saw her reach 12-under. Then came a period of calm, before a birdie on her penultimate hole. A nine-footer for a 58 slid by some three feet at her final hole – but she made the return to become “Mrs. 59”.

Charlie Sifford, 1967, Greater Hartford Open, Wethersfield Country Club, 64

Charlie Sifford

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The significance of Charlie Sifford’s 1967 triumph cannot be understated. He had to wait until 1960 until he received an “approved player card” from the PGA, and upon the association dropping its ‘Caucasian only’ stipulation, earned his full membership in 1961. Race riots raged across America in 1967, and decades of racial oppression threatened to tear the country apart, yet Sifford was resolute in his quest to break golf’s color barrier. His final-round 64 (7-under) at the Greater Hartford Open in Connecticut saw him become the first Black player to win on the PGA Tour.

Y.E. Yang, 2009, PGA Championship, Hazeltine, 67

Y.E. Yang

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Even though Y.E. Yang’s 67 was the low round of the day at the 2009 PGA Championship, it’s not a score that would leap out of the record books at you. What was really special about this round, was who it came against: Tiger Woods. The American just didn’t get beaten when holding a 54-hole lead at a Major, but Yang put an end to that particular record. In the end, it was fairly emphatic, the unfancied South Korean’s birdie at the last extending his winning margin over the world number one by three shots.

Jack Nicklaus, 1986, The Masters, Augusta, 65

Jack Nicklaus 1986 Masters

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Augusta might set-up favorably for players searching for a low number on Sunday, especially on the back nine, but 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus, going in search of his 18th Major, had very little room for error when he made the turn at the 1986 Masters. The Golden Bear came home in six-under-par (30), in what was one of the famous venue’s greatest ever moments. The Augusta roars got louder and louder with each putt that the man in yellow dropped, reaching deafening levels as he put his foot to the pedal with an eagle-birdie-birdie streak from the 15th.

Michelle Wie, 2004, Sony Open, Waialae Country Club, 68

Michelle Wie 2004

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In 2004, Michelle Wie (now Wie West) shot 68 in the second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii, narrowly missing on making the cut at what was a PGA Tour event by just one stroke. Of course, not only was one of the most talented young female players teeing it up alongside some of the game’s best male Tour pros, she was a 14-year-old amateur. You can only imagine how intimidating that must have felt. “I’m really happy to be out there, but I’m really nervous that I might mess up,” she said. Given that she still finished ahead of 47 male players, Wie surely left feeling quite optimistic about her future.

Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.