Sensation as China's Li fires 63 at British Open

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China's Li Haotong.

Chinese prodigy Li Haotong caused a sensation in the British Open yesterday as he shot a 7-under-par 63 in his final round at Royal Birkdale to finish on 6-under overall.

Li, 21, started the day at 1-over for the championship and parred his first seven holes before a remarkable run of seven birdies and four pars in his remaining 11 holes.

It is just the 32nd round of 63 ever recorded in a major championship and just the 11th achieved at a British Open.

The score was the all-time low in a major until Saturday, when South Africa's Branden Grace broke new ground with an unprecedented 62 in the third round.

Playing with South Africa's Ernie Els, a two-time British Open winner, Li sealed his superb effort with an immaculate approach shot to within five feet of the pin on 18, leaving an easy birdie putt.

He made birdie at each of his last four holes.

The round propelled Li to third on the leaderboard and suddenly into contention for the Claret Jug on his Open debut with leaders Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar losing ground early in their rounds.

Earlier in the day he had been listed as a 1,000/1 shot by some bookmakers to win the championship.

"He was playing good and making putts. And he had a nice attitude. And I could see he wasn't backing off," said his playing partner Els, who shot 74 to end on 5-over. "You see some guys get a little bit scared, but he kept going. So it was really special to see. The shot on 18 was just phenomenal."

Li had gone 69-73-69 through the three rounds, solid if unspectacular form.

But he made history at the US Open last month at Erin Hills when he became the first player from mainland China to make the cut of a major.

He ended up shooting 82 and 84 over the weekend to finish last among the players to make the cut, but he also won the China Open last year when still just 20 and represented his country at the Olympics in Rio.

Royal Birkdale has seen great performances from Asian golfers before at the British Open. In 1971, Chinese Taipei's Lu Liang-huan, sporting a pork pie hat wherever he went, finished second to Lee Trevino of the US, missing out on the Claret Jug by a single stroke.

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