Magic McIlroy emulates Tiger to blow away rest of the field - Golf - Sport - The Independent

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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones