PINEHURST, N.C. — First came the Tiger train through Pebble Beach in 2000, winning the U.S. Open by a record 15 strokes.
Then came Rory’s runaway at Congressional Country Club in 2011. He set 11 U.S. Open scoring records, and settled for an eight-shot victory.
Those kind of convincing wins only come around so often at a major golf championship geared to limit … well, good scoring.
Is Germany’s Martin Kaymer ready to join Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in U.S. Open lore?
Through two rounds at the 114th U.S. Open, it sure seems that way.
Kaymer posted his second consecutive 5-under-par 65 at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club No. 2 Course on Friday morning, except this time perhaps more impressively. He went bogey-free.
At 10-under 130, Kaymer eclipsed McIlroy’s 36-hole U.S. Open record of 131, set in 2011. He also became just the sixth player in the championship’s history to reach double digits under par.
Kaymer leads American Brendon Todd (67) by six strokes, which ties Woods (2000) and McIlroy (2011) for the largest U.S. Open lead at the midway point.
The reigning Players Championship winner has made 11 birdies and one bogey through two rounds. He hasn’t made a bogey in 29 holes. And he doesn’t seem to have a worry in the world.
He’s leaving that for the rest of the field trying to figure out a way to catch him.
“The (36-hole) record shows that it’s very rare that somebody shoots 10-under-par after two rounds,” Kaymer said. “And it just happened in my case now.”
An overnight thunderstorm dumped nearly ¾-inch rain over Pinehurst No. 2, making it soft and vulnerable to aggressive shot-making – which fits Kaymer's style.
Kaymer started with a tap-in birdie at the 10th hole, then rolled in 25-footers at No. 13 and No. 16 to go out in 3-under.
After a two-putt birdie at the par-5 fifth, Kaymer said he got tired, but managed to convert two momentous up-and-downs out of the greenside bunkers at the sixth and seventh holes for pars.
Kaymer was in the field as the reigning PGA Championship champion when McIlroy won in unimaginable fashion at Congressional, setting the tournament scoring record at 16-under 268.
“I thought … ‘How can you shoot that low?’” said Kaymer, who finished tied for 58th that year. “And that’s probably what a lot of other people think about me right now.”
The question is – who can chase down Kaymer?
Todd is not only a U.S. Open rookie, but this is the first major he’s ever played in. The University of Georgia graduate’s biggest claim to fame before this season was making a hole-in-one at the same par 3 twice at the 2009 Athens Regional Foundation Classic on the Web.com Tour.
Heading into this season, Todd had registered just one top-10 finish in 60 PGA Tour starts. But he won the HP Byron Nelson Championship in early May.
“Kaymer’s performance has been incredible,” Todd said. “He’s playing a brand of golf that we haven’t seen probably in a long time – since maybe Tiger. He might need to come back (to the pack) a little bit.”
Kevin Na (69) and Brandt Snedeker (68), both Americans, are tied for third at 3-under 137 – seven shots behind Kaymer.
“He’s obviously playing great,” Snedeker said. “But this golf course is very, very difficult – very, very tricky, and no lead is safe in the U.S. Open.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442