By James Corrigan at Congressional
Rory McIlroy is gone, in a different county, doing his finest impression of Tiger Woods in his heyday. To say the 111th US Open is his for the taking is like saying tomorrow is Sunday. It may only be halfway but he is knocking on the door of paradise.
Whatever he goes on to achieve – or, whisper it, blow up – in these next two days, there are some glories already in that golden grasp. A 66 on the second day to go with his 65 of the first day took him to 11-under. This was the lowest second-round total in 116 years of the US Open. And but for a double-bogey on the 18th, when visiting the water, McIlroy would have broken Nick Faldo's record for the lowest second-round total in the 151-year history of the majors.
Is that final-hole blunder a reason to doubt the 22-year-old? For some, perhaps. But they can't have witnessed the previous 35 holes which qualify this as one of this major's greatest starts. Nobody has ever been 13-under in the US Open before. Not even Tiger Woods.
"This was pretty much the best golf I can play," said McIlroy, who has now led after five of the six major rounds played so far this year. "Every time I get myself in a position in a major, I am feeling more and more comfortable. I was at ease out there today. But it's easy to be at ease when you're hitting so many great shots."
So much for all those "Remember Augusta" taunts and the supposed scars of how he surrendered a four-shot lead with that Masters final-round 80 two months ago. There is no bigger compliment to pay the young Ulsterman than to say he resembled Woods 11 years ago.
But then, Woods was "only" six clear after two rounds. With the afternoon starters teeing off in disbelief at the task ahead, McIlroy was eight ahead of YE Yang and nine clear of a group in the clubhouse on two under, including the resurgent Sergio Garcia (left).
Of course, few really expect McIlroy to emulate Woods' 15-stroke romp, though it stretches deep into the incredible that he went 35 holes without a bogey. And last night he was quoted by bookmakers at odds-on to become the youngest winner of the US Open in 88 years. In 1923 the young winner's name was Bobby Jones.
McIlroy's partner, Phil Mickelson, had a second-round 69 to stand on one over, 12 behind. The four-times major winner could only join in the applause when McIlroy stood in the middle of the eighth fairway, arms aloft, after his eagle on that 354-yard par-four.
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