CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Bubba Watson overpowered Quail Hollow and wound up with a perfect day. He tied the course record with a 30 on the front nine, shot a 7-under-par 65 to share the lead, and doesn’t have to play with Tiger Woods.
Retief Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open champion who thrives on fast greens, had a 68 on Friday to join Watson atop the leader board at the Quail Hollow Championship with an 8-under 136.
Woods seized control with a 55-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole and had a two-shot lead for most of the back nine until a sloppy finish, making bogeys on two of the last three holes for a 72 that left him one shot behind.
Still, it was shaping up as an entertaining weekend packed with star power.
Ten players were separated by two shots going into the weekend on a course that proved it doesn’t need rough to be frightening, not with firm, slick greens that made it difficult to get close to the hole.
Former Masters champion Zach Johnson, one of eight players who had at least a share of the lead at one point, was the only player to reach 10-under par until he bogeyed the last three holes for a 67 and joined the group at 7-under 137 that included Woods, Jim Furyk (66) and George McNeill (68).
Another shot back was Phil Mickelson, whose 71 was anything but routine. Lefty was finding his groove until he four-putted from 40 feet for double bogey on the 17th hole. He also had a two-putt par that featured two clubs – a 64-degree sand wedge on the fourth green to get over a steep slope and a putter for the remaining 5 feet.
He will play with Camilo Villegas, who had a 67.
Watson has never won a tournament and doesn’t get much attention except the freak show he puts on with his outrageous length, such as the 380-yard drive at No. 5 that left him a 9-iron into the green on the 569-yard par 5. He plays practice rounds with Woods when he can, but he expected a pairing with Woods in a tournament might be vastly different.
And he says he doesn’t like attention, especially when the cameras come around.
“It’s just because I play golf because I love the golf courses, I love to play, and now I’ve got all these strangers staring at me,” Watson said. “I get nervous around people.”
Woods and Goosen made sure that wouldn’t be the case.
Goosen, who won at Innisbrook on greens that were crusty and slick, holed a 20-foot birdie putt on his final hole to join the leaders. A few minutes later, Woods completed his mini-meltdown.
From just off the par-5 15th green in two, his eagle chip was too hard and he missed the 5-foot birdie. Then came a tee shot into the trees on the 16th, leading to bogey. And on the 18th, his approach went to the back of the green – the pin was in the front – and from 90 feet away, he three-putted for bogey to fall out of the lead.
“I didn’t drive the ball particularly well today, didn’t hit my irons as well as I’d like,” Woods said. “I was hanging in there. If I could have posted 9 (under), I would have probably gotten the most out of that round I could have. It just didn’t work out that way.”
GIRONA, Spain – France’s Thomas Levet shot a 5-under 67 to take a two-stroke lead in the Spanish Open. John Daly’s 72 left him 11 strokes back in his first tournament of the season.
Levet had a 13-under 131 total on the Catalunya course. Denmark’s Soren Hansen was second after a 70. Daly is serving a six-month PGA Tour suspension.