DORAL, Fla. — Bubba Watson and Justin Rose put on an amazing show of birdies in blustery conditions at Doral, making 17 between them while playing in the same group Friday at the Cadillac Championship.
Their playful duel was decided by Watson’s eagle, giving him a 10-under 62 and a one-shot lead.
Mark Wilson, the third in that group, shot a respectable 70 and was just along for the ride.
“They did everything right,” Wilson said. “It was some of the best golf I’ve seen collectively between them.”
“Maybe they’ve been cutting the hole a little bigger,” Rose said.
Despite the steady wind, there were plenty of low scores on the Blue Monster. The average score was 69.9, close to three strokes easier than the opening round. There were 12 scores in the 60s on Thursday, and 31 of them Friday.
Tiger Woods played bogey-free for a 67 and actually lost ground. He moved up the leaderboard, but is seven shots behind going into the weekend, with 14 players ahead of him.
“This is the highest score I could have shot today, for sure,” Woods said.
Rory McIlroy, in his first tournament as the new world No. 1, managed a 69 and fell 10 shots off the lead.
Perhaps most peculiar about Watson being atop the leaderboard at Doral is that he really doesn’t like the course. Without many trees except for the waving palms, he can’t figure out where he’s supposed to be hitting the ball. But he kept hitting it long, had short irons into the greens and made his share of putts. That works just about anywhere.
As always, there were a few shots that only Watson can see.
He was so far left of the sixth fairway, that a tree was blocking his path to the green. Watson had only 135 yards to the hole, but instead of playing a sand wedge, he hit 9-iron and aimed it some 20 yards right of the green, slicing it back into the left-to-right wind beyond the hole until the wind pushed it back on the descent. It landed 6 feet from the cup.
His caddie, Ted Scott, keeps notes in the yardage book of how Watson plays each hole in every round. Next to the 9-iron from 135 yards, he put in parentheses, “Wow.”