Only two men had ever recorded a 61 at the WGC-Bridgestone in Akron, Ohio, before Sergio Garcia equaled the feat on Friday.
Those two men – Jose Maria Olazabal and Tiger Woods (who did it twice) have something in common about their 61s – they used them to run away and win the tournament.
Garcia hopes to do the same, but on a day of low scores, his 61 only got him into the lead, there are no guarantees beyond that. He was 9-under on the day and is 11-under for the tournament, giving him a 3-stroke lead over 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose.
Garcia’s 27 on the back nine set a new course record as he birdied all but the 11th hole over the second half of the course, missing a 15-foot putt there. He as just 1-under at the turn before catching fire, birdying his last seven holes in a row.
Rose followed up his Day One 65 with a 3-under 67 to reach 8-under. He made just one bogey on the day.
Day One leader Marc Leishman followed up with a 69 to sit third, tied there with The Open Championship winner Rory McIlroy, who surged up the leader board with a 6-under 64, the second-best round of the day behind Garcia.
McIlroy shot 32s on both sides of the course. If he wins the tournament and current No. 1 Adam Scott does not finish in the Top 10, McIlroy would take over the top ranking next week.
Rounding out the top five are American Rickie Fowler and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, both of whom are at 6-under. Fowler shot a 67 for the second straight day.
The aforementioned Scott is currently tied for 12th, eight strokes back at 3-under, but he’s in good company, alongside the likes of Jim Furyk, Thomas Bjorn, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar.
Defending champion Woods fell from ninth to 25th after carding a 1-over 71 on Friday. Woods was 1-under through 10 before bogeying 11 and 13. He’s tied at 1-over with Masters champion Bubba Watson and FedExCup leader Jimmy Walker.
Jordan Spieth bounced back to shoot a even-par 70, moving up to 35th, while Phil Mickelson struggled for a second straight day with a 3-over 73 to fall to a tie for 53rd at 4-over.
US Open champion Martin Kaymer bounced back from his horrific 7-over 77 on Thursday to fire a 68 on Friday.
Garcia, Rose and Leishman will combine to tee off at 9 a.m. on Hole No. 1 on Saturday in Round 3.