Magic McIlroy emulates Tiger to blow away rest of the field

Ulsterman on a different plane as he fires the lowest 36-hole total in US Open history to go six shots clear

Rory McIlroy is gone, he's out of sight, in a different county, on another dimension, doing his finest impression of Tiger Woods in his heyday.

To say the 111th US Open is his for the taking is a bit like saying tomorrow is Sunday. He may only be halfway but he is so almost in paradise.

Whatever he goes on to achieve – or, whisper it, blow – 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 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 golf'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. But I know, more than probably anyone, what can happen. I've got to stay focused and try to finish this thing off."

"Remember Augusta," bellow the naysayers. Mind all of us while we forget how he surrendered a four-shot lead with that final-round 80 and instead remember Pebble Beach. Not so much last year's victory of Graeme McDowell – although as McIlroy's countryman and best friend this is obviously pertinent – but of 2000. There is no bigger compliment to pay the young Ulsterman than to say he resembled the runaway pacesetter 11 years ago. Just like Woods, McIlroy is six clear at halfway. The South Korean Y E Yang is five-under after a 69 and there is another three back to a group in third, including Sergio Garcia.

Of course, few truly expect McIlroy to emulate Woods' 15-stroke romp, although the evidence of his form screams at the possibility. It stretches deep into the incredible that he went 35 holes without a bogey here; just as it strains credibility to accept that he has hit 32 of the 36 greens in regulation. Last night he was quoted by the bookmakers as being long odds-on to become the youngest winner of the US Open in 88 years. In 1923 the young winner's name was Bobby Jones.

That is the calibre of legend beckoning McIlroy, a player who Ernie Els said on the eve of this major "has the talent to change history". Perhaps the peerlessness of his brilliance here is best summed up by the comparison with his partner Phil Mickelson. Totally eclipsed on Thursday, the four-time major champion at least raised a few cheers in his own second-round 69. But on one-over he is 12 behind and shaking his head at the upstart alongside. "He's striking it flawlessly," said the left-hander. Meanwhile his caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay asked: "Is there a 'B' flight this week?"

The image of the day was when McIlroy stood in the middle of the eighth fairway arms aloft and Mickelson joined in the applause. Naturally the eagle on that 354-yard par-four was the highlight of this or any round completed on the 7,574-yard monster. From 113 yards McIlroy landed a wedge shot a trifle left, 30 feet behind the flag and then waited for it to make its inexorable progress. And so it span backwards, and so it veered across, and so it picked up pace, and so it plopped. What a way to become just the fifth player to reach double-digits under par in the US Open.

Fortunate? A tad. Yet such had been the quality of McIlroy's nerveless opening it would have been churlish in the extreme to suggest so. The first birdie came on the fourth when he rolled in a 30-footer and then on the par-five sixth he whipped in a wedge to four feet. Inevitably there were a few tense moments in the middle, although the manner in which he dealt with them inspired so much hope. On the par-three 10th his tee-shot scraped over the water. No bother. A two-putt par. On the 11th he missed a green but splashed out to 10 feet and holed the putt. A rumour went around that Tiger had put out a tweet saying, "Who does this kid think he is? Me?" Woods hadn't. But he should have.

As McIlroy moved through the 14th – yet another approach to a few feet – the gap seemed to extend with every stride. On the 579-yard 16th he hit his second to nine feet. This was ridiculous, although a sliver of reality invaded the fantasy when the putt slid by. Oh, disaster, it was only a birdie. On the 17th his 15-footer for a three located the centre of the hole. The record was on. A par for a halfway total of 129, bettering by one the historic mark set by Faldo at the 1992 Open at Muirfield.

Alas the drive was pulled and he followed Mickelson into the lake on the left of the green. McIlroy failed to get up and down but still the smile beamed. His performance had overshadowed each and every tale in the tournament. Special mention should be given to Garcia, who has been resurrected with a 69 and 71, while Englishman Robert Rock's week has been bizarre.

He didn't arrive in Washington until 3.30am on Thursday morning having experienced "visa problems" and taking a $1,000 taxi trip down from New York. No practice round, plenty of jet lag. But last week's Italian Open winner has fared impressively playing "blind', standing at one-under par after a 70 and 71. Take out McIlroy and Rock would in contention. But Rory is there right enough. Riding so high, dreaming so big.

Congressional Scores

Congressional G & CC, Bethesda, Maryland (US unless stated, par 71)

First Round

65 R McIlroy (NIrl)

68 C Schwartzel (SA); Y E Yang (S Kor)

69 A Rocha (Br); S Hend (Aus); S Garcia (Sp); R Palmer; L Oosthuizen (SA); K T Kim (S Kor)

70 R Garrigus; G McDowell (NIrl); J Senden (Aus); D Love III; S Cink; A Quiros (Sp); J Edfors (Swe); C Reavie; R Rock (Eng); B Dickerson; B Snedeker; H Stenson (Swe)

71 C Hoffman; Z Johnson; B Watson; A Cabrera (Arg); H Slocum; J Day (Aus); A Baddeley (Aus); C Deforest; W Cauley; B Jobe; D May; P Harrington (Ire)

72 R Sabbatini (SA); S Noh (S Kor); C Greyling (SA); J Overton; H Frazar; M Kuchar; P Hanson (Swe); P Uihlein; J J Henry; S Lowry (Ire); B Benjamin

73 B Gay; G Woodland; T Hamilton; D Kim (S Kor); K Kuboya (Japan); B Haas; M Leishman (Aus); E Els (SA); R Henley; M Laird (Sco); R Goosen (SA); S Piercy; K Streelman; S Gallacher (Sco); R Allenby (Aus); P Casey (Eng); R Moore

74 J Hicks; D Toms; M Manassero (It); M Kaymer (Ger); J Rose (Eng); R Fowler; E Molinari (It); A Scott (Aus); M Putnam; S Saunders; C Wilson; P Mickelson; R Ishikawa (Japan); D.A. Points; H Mahan; A Kim; S Kang (S Kor); J Furyk; F Jacobson (Swe); J Ellis; C Pan (Chin); L Donald (Eng)

75 N Watney; F Molinari (It); W Heffernan (Can); G Ogilvy (Aus); P Cantlay; A Hadwin (Can); W Simpson; A Noren (Swe); S Barr (Aus); T Petrovic; B Baird; L Westwood (Eng); S Stricker; R Nelson; J Dufner; M Campbell (NZ); B Locke; F Funk; A Cejka (Ger); D Johnson; M Tobiason jr; T Immelman (SA); M Edwards; S Bae (S Kor); I Poulter (Eng); J Byrd; T Levet (Fr)

76 K Triplett; B Blakeman; J Hutchins; C Campbell; J Mills (Can); B Van Pelt; J Lamielle; M Turnesa; L Glover; B Hossler; G Chalmers (Aus); N Colsaerts (Bel); K Chappell; M Smith; A Long; C Williams (SA)

77 B Adamonis; G Sisk; M Richardson (Eng); M Whitehead; Z Byrd; N O'Hern (Aus); B Crane; M A Jimenez (Sp); K J Choi (S Kor); E Gealy; C Villegas (Col); B Patterson; G Havret (Fr)

78 S Irwin; D Howell (GB); R Dinwiddie (GEng); A Harto (Den); M Wilson

79 A Gonzales; M Siem (Ger); S Pinckney; M Lafeber (Neth); H Fujita (Japan); R Karlsson (Swe); W Wilcox; D Kim (S Kor) 80 K Na 82 D Chung 83 M Barbosa

84 T Tryon

Second Round Scores

131 R McIlroy (NIrl) 65 66

137 Y E Yang (S Kor) 68 69

140 Z Johnson 71 69; R Garrigus 70 70; S Garcia (Sp) 69 71; B Snedeker 70 70

141 R Rock (Eng) 70 71; A Quiros (Sp) 70 71; K T Kim (S Kor) 69 72

142 S Y Noh (S Kor) 72 70; A Noren (Swe) 75 67; C Schwartzel (SA) 68 74; J Senden (Aus) 70 72; P Cantlay 75 67

143 P Hanson (Swe) 72 71; P Mickelson 74 69; B Van Pelt 76 67; K Chappell 76 67

144 S Stricker 75 69; Do-hoon Kim (S Kor) 73 71; E Molinari (It) 74 70

145 A Rocha (Br) 69 76; C Hoffman 71 74; R Sabbatini (SA) 72 73; L Glover 76 69; M Putnam 74 71; T Hamilton 73 72

146 H Mahan 74 72; D Johnson 75 71; R Goosen (SA) 73 73; Sang-moon Bae (S Kor) 75 71; W Heffernan (Can) 75 71; M Manassero (It) 74 72; K Kuboya (Japan) 73 73

147 C Deforest 71 76; S Hend (Aus) 69 78; S Gallacher (Sco) 73 74; M Laird (GB) 73 74; R Fowler 74 73; D May 71 76

148 A Baddeley (Aus) 71 77; N Watney 75 73; B Crane 77 71; I Poulter (Eng) 75 73; E Gealy 77 71; M Wilson 78 70

149 F Molinari (It) 75 74; A Gonzales 79 70; J Dufner 75 74; D Toms 74 75; B Blakeman 76 73; T Immelman (SA) 75 74; C Williams (SA) 76 73; J Mills (Can) 76 73; C Villegas (Col) 77 72; B Baird 75 74

150 S Barr (Aus) 75 75; M Angel Jimenez (Sp) 77 73; G Ogilvy (Aus) 75 75; R Moore 73 77

151 R Allenby (Aus) 73 78; B Dickerson 70 81

152 C Wilson 74 78; D Howell (Eng) 78 74; R Dinwiddie (Eng) 78 74; C P Pan (China) 74 78; H Fujita (Japan) 79 73

153 R Nelson 75 78; B Hossler 76 77; M Lafeber (Neth) 79 74; B Locke 75 78

154 S Pinckney 79 75; A Harto (Den) 78 76

155 S Irwin 78 77; K Na 80 75; G Sisk 77 78; B Patterson 77 78

157 T Tryon 84 73

158 M Richardson (GB) 77 81

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Extras
indybest 9 best steam generator irons
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering