PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Webb Simpson shot a 72 on Thursday that felt like a 64.
Then he went out and shot an actual 64.
Simpson, who was at 5 over after his first eight holes of the PGA Championship, surged into contention Friday by tying the course record at Oak Hill — only for it to be broken a few hours later. With a 6-under 64 in the morning, he was at 4 under overall, five strokes behind Jason Dufner, who matched the mark for a major with a 63 in the afternoon.
Simpson didn't know the course record, but he was almost positive that 63 was the standard for a major. And when he made four birdies in five holes to reach 7 under with three to play, he couldn't help but fantasize about history.
"I made the turn — I'm still trying to make the cut. It's amazing how a day like today, you go from outside the cut line, to just in, to going for the all-time major record," Simpson said. "It's a big swing of emotions. But the mind is powerful, so I was just trying to not think about it and just stay kind of in my rhythm."
The 2012 U.S. Open champion had five bogeys and a double bogey through eight holes in his first round. He gave himself a little pep talk on the seventh green.
"I said, 'If I have any chance in this golf tournament, any chance at all just to contend, I have to be patient the rest of the day,'" he recalled. "I wanted to get mad. Wanted to throw clubs and do all that, but it wasn't going to help anything."
He followed his own advice with four birdies on the back nine, including one on No. 18 to end the day with confidence cresting.
As the rain let up Friday, Simpson made three birdie putts of about 10-12 feet on his back nine. A 35-footer on No. 5 gave him an inkling something special might be happening.
And a conundrum.
"It's so hard because, on one hand, you want to go for it. You want to go for the record," Simpson said. "But you can't do that on a golf course this hard."
He needed to stay patient and conservative.
"This game is so funny — when you try to make birdies, it seems like you don't," he said. "It was there. It's like the elephant in the room."
One of his playing partners, Angel Cabrera, withdrew because of a wrist injury after 11 holes, and Simpson said that helped in the wet weather by giving him more time between shots.
He slipped back to 6 under with a bogey on No. 7 after his second shot got tangled in the branches of one of the towering trees lining the hole. The ball came down in rough so deep Simpson had to ask a spectator where it landed.
After just missing birdie putts on his last two holes, Simpson learned he tied the record first set by Ben Hogan in 1942 and matched by Curtis Strange at the 1989 U.S. Open. It would later be lowered by Dufner with soft conditions yielding low scores.
|Miami||80||4th Qtr 6:18|
|Oklahoma City||83||3rd Qtr 6:24|
|LA Clippers||9:30 PM|
|Colorado||2||3rd Prd 6:28|
|St. Louis||2||3rd Prd :54|
|Montreal||2||2nd Prd 1:23|
|NY Islanders||2||2nd Prd 19:32|
|East Tenn St||64||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||69|
|Morgan State||61||1st OT 2:42|
|Texas Southern||61||2nd Half 7:00|
|USC Upstate||60||1st OT|
|New Orleans||65||2nd Half 3:15|
|SE Louisiana||47||2nd Half 4:35|
|Sam Houston St||61|
|Jackson State||41||2nd Half 15:02|
|Grambling St||57||2nd Half 5:51|
|Hawaii||43||2nd Half 10:30|
|UC Santa Barbara||59|
|Butler||54||2nd Half 13:05|
|Iowa||51||2nd Half 11:33|
|Grand Canyon||36||2nd Half 11:26|
|New Mexico St||58|
|Loyola Marymount||38||2nd Half 9:15|
|VA Commonwealth||31||2nd Half 12:45|
|Prairie View||56||2nd Half 5:13|
|Oral Roberts||45||2nd Half 17:03|
|Stephen F Austin||48|
|UCLA||66||2nd Half 8:59|
|Idaho State||46||2nd Half 6:48|
|SE Missouri St||25||2nd Half|
|North Dakota||28||2nd Half|
|UC Davis||17||1st Half 6:16|
|UC Irvine||25||1st Half 4:53|
|Cal State Fullerton||16|
|Long Beach State||17||1st Half 10:37|
|Niagara||24||1st Half 7:42|
|Weber State||9||1st Half 8:55|
|Montana||27||1st Half 7:03|
|Santa Clara||10:00 PM|
|Sam Houston St||93|
|Stephen F Austin||72|
|East Tenn St||74||FINAL|
|Wake Forest||49||2nd Half 7:43|
|(13) North Carolina||50|
|Eastern Washington||56||2nd Half 6:04|
|Sacramento St||72||2nd Half 4:08|
|Northern Ariz||68||2nd Half 6:29|
|Portland State||33||2nd Half 14:45|
|Chicago State||29||2nd Half 6:51|
|New Mexico St||47||2nd Half 2:21|
|Oregon||71||2nd Half 10:59|
|CS-Northridge||22||1st Half 5:51|
|Long Beach St||19|
|UC-Riverside||17||1st Half 8:26|
|UMKC||23||1st Half 7:18|
|Cal State Fullerton||17||1st Half 5:34|
|UC Santa Barbara||10:59 PM|