The 35-year-old lefty captured his first green jacket two years ago with that historic shot from the trees on the first playoff hole against Louis Oosthuizen.
This time, Watson was cruising along under the radar at even par through 11 holes on a breezy Friday, but then he turned on the jets with five consecutive birdies (Nos. 12-16) to distance himself from the field.
Watson had a little hiccup on the 18th hole when he missed a 4-footer for par, but his 7-under total for 36-holes sets a mark that is unlikely to be matched.
“I felt really good,” Watson said. “This year I’m trying to get the jacket back. You’re not the man. You want that feeling again, you want that back.”
The next two days will still be interesting. Watson has converted only one of eight previous second-round leads.