PITTSFORD, N.Y. – At one point in this championship he was 5 over par, so Webb Simpson wasn’t too displeased with his failed bid to shoot the first 62 in major-championship history.
The 2012 U.S. Open champion took advantage of rain-softened Oak Hill on Friday to tie the competitive course record with a 6-under 64 and vault up the leaderboard and into a share of fifth place as the afternoon wave gets under way at the 95th PGA Championship. (Editor's note: Jason Dufner shot 63 Friday afternoon to set a new course record.)
“It was a big swing of emotions,” Simpson said of his 72-64 start. “It’ll go down as one of my most special rounds ever.”
Few could have seen this turnaround coming.
On Thursday, Simpson was 5 over after his first eight holes before salvaging a 2-over 72. “It was a pretty low moment for me,” he said, “but 2 over felt like 64 yesterday.”
Then, while playing much of his second round in a steady rain, he made seven birdies before his lone bogey on the seventh hole (his 16th of the day),when he tried to play a big cut with his approach shot but clipped a tree.
He missed a 12-footer on No. 8 that would have given him a chance at 62, and a par on the last gave him a share of the competitive course record on the East Course, along with Ben Hogan (1942 Times-Union Open) and Curtis Strange (1989 U.S. Open).
“It’s so hard, because you want to go for the record, but you can’t do that on a golf course this hard,” he said. “So it’s a balance of how much do you want to go for it and how much do you continue to do what you’re doing. … I didn’t want to talk about it because I thought it would be the wrong thing to focus on. It’s like the elephant in the room.”
Interestingly, Simpson was similarly volatile a week ago at Firestone, going 64-75-73-66 to finish tied for 14th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He hasn’t won since his victory at Olympic Club, but he has four top 10s this season, including a playoff loss at Hilton Head.
“I felt comfortable with my game (entering this week),” Simpson said, “but I knew this golf course would demand everything to be on.”