McIlroy, 11 under, in total command at U.S. Open
BETHESDA, Md. – If Rory McIlroy needs any consolation about his double bogey at the finishing hole, his eight-shot lead should work fine.
A day after a bogey-free 65 gave him the first-round lead, the young Irishman torched Congressional for a 5-under 66 on Friday, making plenty of history along the way. His birdie at No. 17 made him the first person in U.S. Open history to reach 13 under par at any point in the tournament.
More history: En route to his record 131 36-hole total, McIlroy became the quickest player to reach 10 under in U.S. Open history, requiring just 26 holes. Only two players had reached 12 under at any point of a U.S. Open – Gil Morgan in 1992 and Tiger Woods in his famous 2000 romp around Pebble Beach. Unless someone should go low in the afternoon, McIlroy will also set the record for largest 36-hole lead at a U.S. Open. Woods led by six at Pebble.
“To me, it really feels quite simple,” McIlroy said. “I’m hitting fairways. I’m hitting greens. I’m holing my fair share of putts. And that’s really been the key.
“I don’t really know what to say. It’s been two very, very good days of golf.”
McIlroy also has some history stacked against him: Prior to this year, eight players have jumped out to first-round leads of three shots or larger, but only one (Ben Hogan in 1953) has gone on to win.
McIlroy’s round was highlighted by a hole-out eagle from the eighth fairway, which got him to 10 under after birdies at Nos. 4 and 6. McIlroy then went on to make birdies at Nos. 14, 16 and 17.
In his lone hiccup of the day, McIlroy pulled his tee shot left and hooked his approach into the greenside pond at the par-4 18th, leading to a double-bogey.
“It looked like a decent enough lie. It was sort of where the spectators had sort of been walking, and I just got a little bit of grass caught in between the club face and the ball and it just turned over a little bit. Just one of those things.”
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In the B Flight (the other 155 players), Phil Mickelson’s round appeared to be the second-best of the day, until he was also knocked off-course by a double-bogey finish. Mickelson made five birdies on the way to his second-round 69. Starting the day tied for 62nd after an opening 74, Mickelson moved as high as T-8 before doubling the last. When he finished, he was in a share of 29th.
“I’m still struggling,” Mickelson said. “Even though I was able to shoot under par today, I was still struggling with it.”
Amateur Patrick Cantlay of UCLA (T-15), Alexander Noren (T-14), Kevin Chappell (T-26) and Bo Van Pelt (T-26) all shot 4-under 67 in the morning.
Zach Johnson got closest to McIlroy, making the turn at 4 under (within six at the time), but a 2-over back nine left him at 69–140 and well back of the lead.
“I think (Rory’s) score becomes relevant when you’re talking about the last three or four holes of the golf tournament,” Johnson said. “If it’s a 15-shot lead, then it’s irrelevant. If it’s less than that, I mean, if it’s a handful of shots, you could say it’s somewhat relevant. Right now it’s completely and utterly irrelevant.”