It wasn't supposed to look this easy.
Martin Kaymer made history on Day 2 of the U.S. Open, posting a scorching 65 in the second round to complement his 65 from Day 1. He heads into the second half of the tournament with a huge lead and a U.S. Open record in his back pocket.
ESPN Stats & Info has the relevant statistic:
Martin Kaymer set the all-time U.S. Open record for lowest 36-hole score (130). He's 10-under through 36.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2014
Kaymer isn't the only one with a surprisingly low total after two rounds this year. Several players have made the most of the wide fairways and are well under par. Brendon Todd is in second place with a two-round score of 136, closely followed by Kevin Na and Brandt Snedeker.
The pre-tournament predictions regarding the perceived course difficulty were laughably wrong in some cases. Yahoo Sports' Shane Bacon relayed Graeme McDowell's thoughts on how the U.S. Open would play out:
After his round yesterday, Graeme McDowell said winner will have 10-12 birdies, MAX, this week. After two rounds, Kaymer has 11.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) June 13, 2014
Even Kaymer had to acknowledge the error of his first impressions. Via GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel:
Martin Kaymer: "I got asked Wednesday afternoon what the winning score would be. I said 8-over. I wouldn't take that anymore, though."— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) June 13, 2014
Despite Kaymer's dominance, there is still plenty to look forward to over the weekend. The battle for second place should be excellent as players look to master the No. 2 course at Pinehurst.
Here are the Day 3 tee times for some of the notable players in the U.S. Open.
|11:01 a.m.||1||Retief Goosen||Louis Oosthuizen|
|11:56 a.m.||1||Phil Mickelson||Webb Simpson|
|1:13 p.m.||1||Aaron Baddeley||Justin Rose|
|1:57 p.m.||1||Hideki Matsuyama||Ian Poulter|
|2:19pm||1||Adam Scott||Jordan Spieth|
|2:30 p.m.||1||Chris Kirk||Rory McIlroy|
|2:41 p.m.||1||Matt Kuchar||Henrik Stenson|
|2:52 p.m.||1||Keegan Bradley||Brendon De Jonge|
|3:03 p.m.||1||Dustin Johnson||Brooks Koepka|
|3:14 p.m.||1||Brandt Snedeker||Kevin Na|
|3:25 p.m.||1||Brendon Todd||Martin Kaymer|
(Note: a full list of groupings and tee times can be found at USOpen.com.)
In case you wanted to see Kaymer's brilliance for yourself, here is the relevant TV and live stream information.
Where: Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina
When: Saturday, June 14
TV Coverage: NBC, 12 p.m.—7:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: USOpen.com
Day 3 Predictions
Kaymer's excellence from the first two days will be difficult to sustain, but he's opened up a large enough lead on this tricky course that ordinary golf should be enough for him to hold on to his first-place position.
His performance is truly unprecedented; take a look at how Kaymer's first two rounds compare with recent U.S. Open winners, as well as the winners of the previous two U.S. Opens to take place at Pinehurst.
|Golfer||Year||Course||Round 1||Round 2|
|Justin Rose||2013||Merion Golf Club||71||69|
|Webb Simpson||2012||Olympic Club||72||73|
|Rory McIlroy||2011||Congressional Country Club||65||66|
Kaymer's performance is the best since Rory McIlroy's in 2011, with the other performances in between nowhere near close to their levels of dominance.
The real mystery for the final two rounds is which golfer has the staying power to take second place.
Matt Kuchar has been steady and unspectacular, precisely the kind of golf that many thought would be enough to win this tournament. His even temperament and ability to play the percentages almost guarantees that he creeps up the leaderboard toward Kaymer and takes second place in this one.
After the veteran Kuchar, it is a pair of young golfers with the best chance of making headlines over the final two days of the U.S. Open.
Hideki Matsuyama is well within striking distance of second place with an even-par score after two rounds.
Matsuyama is talented, but he will have to temper his daring shot selection if he is to move up in this tournament. Fellow golf professional Nick Wanderscheid was in awe of at least one of his shot choices.
Matsuyama could have hit that 3 iron 100 times in that bunker and gotten over the lip once. Insane shot selection.— Nick WanderscheidPGA (@NWander1) June 13, 2014
He's coming off a victory at the Memorial Tournament, so this isn't luck sustaining his effort at Pinehurst; Matsuyama is simply playing the best golf of his young career right now. His daring nature won't be enough to move him up the leaderboard, but he is a lock for a Top 10 finish.
Jordan Spieth is another young gun who's made a convincing run over the first two rounds. He looked strong enough reading the greens on Day 1 that ESPN's Mike Greenberg couldn't help but continue to tout him as a potential winner on Day 2.
Sticking with my pick of Jordan Spieth at the US Open. The next big thing has arrived.— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) June 13, 2014
Assuming Kaymer doesn't collapse, which golfer will finish second in the U.S. Open?
Spieth shot a 70 on Day 2 and has a chance at finishing in the top three. The 20-year-old Texan is a prodigious talent and will eventually become a huge star on the PGA Tour if he can build upon performances like this.
If Kaymer wins the U.S. Open, it will be the second major of his career—he won the PGA Championship in 2010. Kaymer also won the 2014 PLAYERS Championship and a victory here might further boost its reputation as the unofficial "fifth major" on the PGA Tour.
A Kaymer collapse is unlikely considering his gigantic lead and the relative difficulty of the course. Should he somehow falter over the weekend, it would be an epic collapse that might actually bring some of the attention back to the PGA Tour that is missing whenever Tiger Woods fails to participate in a major, if only in the form of schadenfreude.