Martin Kaymer is running away from the field at the 2014 U.S. Open thanks to a record-breaking performance through the first two rounds.
The German veteran carded his second straight 65 on Friday. The score was good enough to give him an eight-shot lead as he walked off the course and a new tournament record, as noted by Alex Myers of Golf Digest:
Justin Ray of the Golf Channel noted the effort also set a new Grand Slam standard for the opening two rounds:
Martin Kaymer is the first player in major championship history to open with two rounds of 65 or better.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) June 13, 2014
Coming into the week most of the discussion surrounded the expected difficulty of Pinehurst No. 2. Conventional wisdom suggested players who were able to hover around par for most of the week would at least have a chance heading into Sunday.
Now it would take a meltdown from Kaymer for that to hold true. While every other player in the field has found the course as tricky as advertised, the 2010 PGA Championship winner has made it look simple with very few mistakes through two rounds.
Bob Harig of ESPN passed along comments from him after the opening round. Kaymer said the swing changes he'd been working on are starting to pay off in a big way:
It's always nice if you don't think much about technique and just focus on the main things, the yardages and where you want to pitch the ball, not thinking too much if you hit it not too good; where would it end up.
So I see things very positive right now. There's not much negative, and I really enjoy playing golf that way.
He was also pleased with the way he finished the round on Friday, as quoted by Will Brinson of CBS Sports:
“Very solid at the end.” Martin Kaymer asked to describe his record-tying round of 65 on ESPN— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) June 13, 2014
Can anybody catch Kaymer?
Now it will be interesting to see how Kaymer handles the pressure over the weekend. There are still players on the course for Round 2, meaning his lead might be less than eight by the end of the day, but it's hard to see anybody making a serious charge this afternoon.
Often the hardest part about holding a big lead is deciding how to play. He must choose between continuing to attack like he has through two days, even if it means taking some risks, or back off and try to play it safe for two days. The latter could backfire as well.
If he's able to maintain the same form he's showcased over the first two days, nobody will be able to chase him down. That's always easier said than done.