TULSA, Okla. -- Bubba Watson brought his blowtorch to Southern Hills on Friday and set the course on fire, tying the PGA Championship 18-hole scoring record with a 7-under 63 that moved him from 2 over after Round 1 to 5 under after Round 2. The incredible performance, which included a career-best nine birdies in a single major round, put him squarely in the weekend mix and alongside Tiger Woods and Raymond Floyd as the only golfers to shoot 63s at Southern Hills.
Watson made nine birdies to only two bogeys on Friday, gaining a staggering 8.68 strokes on the field tee to green, most in the field by more than three strokes. He also finished second in strokes gained on approach among all golfers in Round 2. Only once in major championship history has a golfer had a lower score (Branden Grace in 2017 at the Open Championship).
"Without the heat, the cloud cover made it a little bit softer. But when that wind died down, you just felt like you had a chance to score," said Watson. "I'm not saying it was easy by any means. I just hit some putts, hit some shots that helped me -- you know, my whole goal was to make the cut, so I was just trying to stay ahead of the cut line, and every time I made a birdie I just kept saying, 'That's one more to the good [side].'"
Watson poured in five birdies on the back to close his record day. Each time he bogeyed (at the third and at the 14th), he turned around and got it back on the next hole.
The PGA of America opted against cutting the greens overnight because of the forecasted wind and the high likelihood that balls, if the greens were mowed, would be blowing around on greens. For Watson, that made the speed a tad more manageable and gave him a green light to really attack the course on approach as well.
"Slower greens obviously helps," said Watson. "It slows down the chips and everything, all the shots that you're hitting in there. Makes the ball grab more because you have a little bit more grass on there to grab and spin shots."
Watson will head into Moving Day having moved up more than any golfer in the field in Round 2. His 5-under-par score through 36 holes has him sitting solo fourth on the leaderboard and positioned to potentially win for the first time ever at the PGA Championship.