Rochester: Jason Dufner brightened up a dreary day with a charge up the PGA Championship leaderboard and a run at golf history, carding a seven-under 63 on Friday to match the best score for a round at a major.
Just hours after Webb Simpson thrilled the rain-soaked crowd with a 64, equalling the Oak Hill course record, Dufner went one better, becoming just the 24th player to shoot 63 at one of golf`s four major events.
His bogey-free round also shot the laid-back American to the top of the leaderboard with a two round total of nine-under 131, giving him a two shot advantage over Australia`s Adam Scott (68) and the American pair Matt Kuchar (66) and Jim Furyk (68).
Britain`s U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (66) and Swede Henrik Stenson (66) will start Saturday`s third round one stoke further back at six-under.
Tiger Woods, stuck in a five-year major-victory drought, was unable to work his way up the leaderboard, scrapping to a level par 70 to sit 10 strokes behind the leader.
"It`s tough when you`re chasing history," Dufner told reporters. "You will be the first one to do something. I don`t think I`ve been the first to do anything in my life.
"So it was a little nerve-wracking for a Friday. It`s usually the pressure you might feel towards the end of the tournament but I got through it.
"I made a couple of pars, and I wish I had that putt on the last hole back again."
While the galleries were electrified by the 36-year-old`s composed and masterful display, Dufner was typically blasé, showing not a hint of emotion when his approach at the second spun back into the cup for an eagle or when his approach to the 18th landed 12-feet from the hole.
As Dufner walked onto the green sizing up the historic putt, the crowd fell quiet, then groaned when it slowly rolled to halt short of its target.
"Obviously had a fantastic day today in a major championship, chased a little bit of history," said Dufner. "Came up a little short on that last putt but all-in-all I`m excited."
As the rain disappeared and the sun began to peak out from behind the clouds, there was more drama unfolding with the late starters attacking a defenseless East course with gusto.
With the sun-setting, K.J. Choi was poised to challenge the record, reaching six-under for the round with two holes to play but a bogey at 17 ensured he signed for a 65.
The early starters were greeted by dark skies and pounding rain at stately Oak Hill Country Club but the soggy conditions could not prevent some of the contenders from getting off to hot starts.
Scott, the joint overnight leader alongside Furyk, teed off on the back nine in the worst of the conditions but the Masters champion was unbothered by the downpour, picking up a birdie on his opening hole.
I`ve always said the person who wins the world championship this year is the person who does the best job on the circuit, but that does not seem the way it is at the moment.