Bubba Watson believes golf should be celebrating the biggest hitters in the game – and he cannot work out why the sport is so "mad at that guy".

Without naming Bryson DeChambeau, Watson appeared to have his mind set on the likes of the man who leads the PGA Tour for driving distance this season.

DeChambeau, who is driving an average of over 320 yards, has faced some flak for placing such an emphasis on physical strength and building up his body to be more powerful off the tee. He plays with custom clubs, each of the same length, and is the defending champion this week at the U.S. Open, an unorthodox winner who rubs some up the wrong way.

Two-time Masters champion Watson, after moving into contention following the second round at Torrey Pines, used his platform to condemn what he sees as a culture of negativity towards players re-thinking the game and finding new ways to win.

"Truthfully, here's the sad part for me. I've got the microphone so I'm going to talk. The sad part for me is we celebrate every sport in the world. We celebrate accomplishments. We celebrate a guy scoring 50 points in the NBA. They are not saying quit shooting three-pointers. But we don't celebrate when a guy makes eight birdies or a guy bombs it 400 yards," Watson said.

"I don't understand how we're not celebrating. We're trying to make golf courses bigger, harder, dumber, however you want to word it, but we're not celebrating our great players.

"I'm definitely not in that group of great players. I'm saying I want to see these guys hammering the ball. I want the next up-and-comer. I want a 6ft 8in guy not playing in the NBA, I want to see him on the PGA Tour bombing the ball.

"We're the only sport not celebrating accomplishments of being a guy working out in the gym that can hit the ball miles. We're mad at that guy. I don't know why, but we are. I'm not, but some people are – golf course designers.

"The NBA, Tom Brady winning, throwing touchdowns, we celebrate that. They don't ever talk about us chopping out of the – hey, he laid up again. That's great. Anyway, that's my rant for the day."

Watson was offloading that baggage after adding a 67 to his opening 72 to reach three under, looking sure to be in contention going into the weekend as he sits just two shots behind clubhouse leader Richard Bland.

DeChambeau followed a 73 with a 69 to sit on level par, still in the hunt at five off the pace.

That was a far healthier position than Patrick Reed, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth found themselves in.

Reed bogeyed his final hole to slip to three over, a five-foot putt brushing the edge of the cup. Reed won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines earlier this year but was on the borderline of the cut mark after his round on Friday.

Rose added a 77 to his opening 78, and that meant the former champion had no chance of staying around for the weekend's action.

Three-time major winner Spieth followed an opening 77 with a gutsy 69 to give himself a slim chance of making the cut.

If there ever was a course to get slumping Rory McIlroy back on track, Quail Hollow might be it. 

McIlroy shot a five-under-par 66 Friday at the Wells Fargo Championship to make the cut for the first time in two months and reach four-under for the tournament, two strokes behind leaders Matt Wallace, Gary Woodland and Patrick Rodgers. 

First-round leader Phil Mickelson dropped to a tie for 10th overall after carding a 75 at the Charlotte, North Carolina course. 

Only Roger Sloan (64) went lower than McIlroy in the second round, as the 32-year-old recorded six birdies and just one bogey after shooting 72 in the first round. 

The Northern Irishman recorded his first PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow in 2010 and won there again in 2015. He lost out to Rickie Fowler in a three-man playoff in 2012. 

McIlroy is playing his first tournament since missing the cut at the Masters and The Players Championship, the latter coming a week after a 10th-place finish at the Arnold Palmer invitational in early March. 

"When you played the way I played sort of through that stretch in March and into April, you're going to feel like you're not as close as you probably are," McIlroy told reporters. 

"But I worked hard after Augusta. I took a week off and reset, which I needed.

"Then I put my head down and worked hard and at least felt better about everything coming in here."

Among the three leaders heading into the weekend, Wallace shot 67 Friday, Rodgers 68 and Woodland 69.

Kramer Hickok is one stroke back at five-under for the tournament, while Scott Piercy, Keith Mitchell, Carlos Ortiz and Scott Stallings are tied with McIlroy at four-under. 

Mickelson and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson are among those at three-under, while 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed sits four back of the leaders. 

Justin Thomas is six back entering the weekend, while 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and 2020 Open Championship winner Shane Lowry just made the two-over cut. 

Among those who missed the cut were past major champions Fowler, Jason Day, Francesco Molinari and Lucas Glover  in addition to defending champion Max Homa and Jon Rahm.

Rahm had made 22 consecutive cuts, the longest active streak on Tour.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel turned in a nine-under 63 in four-ball play to take the lead after the third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 

The South African duo are 19-under for the tournament and were one of six teams to record a 63, vaulting them past second-round leaders Tony Finau and Cameron Champ by a stroke. 

Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith also shot nine-under and are tied for second with the American pair. 

The top of the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana is crowded, with Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler sitting two shots back along with first-round leaders Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura. 

The tournament, which switched to a team event in 2017, features four-ball in the first and third rounds and foursomes in the second and fourth. 

Three teams are at 16 under and nine more at 15 under, with the latter group including defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer. 

The shot of the day belonged to Sam Ryder, who holed a five iron from 206 yards at No. 2 for a double eagle -- the first at the tournament since Rob Oppenheim did it in 2018.

 

 

 

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