Shanghai • Dustin Johnson tied the course record with a 9-under 63, four shots better than anyone else Friday, and built a five-shot lead in the HSBC Champions. It was the kind of score that might make everyone else wonder which course he was playing.
Except that Graeme McDowell saw the whole thing.
Crouched behind the 10th green at Sheshan International, McDowell looked over at the powerful American and said, "I've probably seen 18 of the best drives I've seen all year in the last two days." Moments later, after Johnson blasted another one down the middle, McDowell saw No. 19.
It was an impressive display, Johnson at his very best with the most important club in his bag. He ran off six birdies in his opening seven holes. He never hit more than 8-iron into a par 4. He twice came within 15 yards of driving the green on par 4s once with a 3-iron.
"I really drove the ball really well," Johnson said. "For me, that's a big key."
Johnson became the sixth player with a 63 at Sheshan International, last achieved by Martin Kaymer in the final round in 2011. He was at 12-under 132, five shots clear of Rory McIlroy (72), Bubba Watson (69) and Boo Weekley (67).
Fred Couples took the second-round lead in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in San Francisco, shooting his second straight 6-under 65 in the Champions Tour's season-ending event.
Winless this season, Couples had a bogey-free round at TPC Harding Park.
Dustin Johnson -12
Bubba Watson -7
Boo Weekley -7
Rory McIlroy -7
Phil Mickelson -5