On a course that was supposed to be a challenge for everyone involved, Martin Kaymer had no problem pulling away from the field with an incredible first two rounds at the 2014 U.S. Open.
The former No. 1 player in the world had gotten off to an impressive start with a 65 in Round 1, but few people thought he could keep it up for the rest of the tournament. However, Kaymer did just that with another 65 in Round 2, putting him in a class by himself, as noted by Justin Ray of Golf Channel:
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
This impressive performance obviously gave Kaymer a big lead, but there are a number of top challengers still in contention at Pinehurst. Here is a look at the top of the leaderboard after 36 holes of the U.S. Open:
Kaymer was truly the star of the day, starting things up with a birdie on his first hole on No. 10. He kept that up with a flawless round that featured no bogeys and five birdies to dominate a usually tough course at Pinehurst No. 2.
His mark at 10-under was the lowest ever at the U.S. Open, via ESPN Stats and Info:
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
Pat Forde of Yahoo compared the start to another notable performance in this tournament:
Martin Kaymer is going Tiger-at-Pebble-in-2000 on the US Open field. My goodness.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) June 13, 2014
Tiger Woods finished that tournament at 19 strokes under par, helping him win his first career U.S. Open and fourth major title.
Although there are still two rounds left for Kaymer to try to keep this up, history is on his side heading into the weekend. Trey Wingo of ESPN pointed out how difficult it is to blow a lead this big:
Is Martin Kaymer's lead invincible? no 36-hole leader at the U.S. Open has blown a lead of more than 4 shots. And that happened back in 1909— trey wingo (@wingoz) June 13, 2014
The German star is certainly having fun with his strong performance, as he told reporters after his round in comments relayed by Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press:
I look at the scoreboards. It's enjoyable. To see what's going on, to watch yourself, how you react if you're leading by five, by six. ... I don't know, but it's quite nice to play golf that way.
You just want to keep going. You want to keep playing. You want to challenge yourself. If you can stay aggressive and hit the right shots. And that's quite nice that it's a battle against yourself.
Despite this strong play, there are still top players in the hunt after the second round. Brendon Todd remains the closest after moving to four-under with his 67 on Friday.
The 28-year-old golfer was making his major debut this week, but this did not stop him from continuing his impressive play. Yahoo golf writer Shane Bacon highlighted how well Todd has performed lately:
Brendon Todd is 33-under par over his last 14 rounds on the PGA Tour.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) June 13, 2014
Like Kaymer, Todd also avoided bogeys and should be able to at least keep things close throughout the weekend.
The second-to-last group on Saturday will feature Kevin Na and Brandt Snedeker, two players who were not quite as consistent. Na shot a 69 in Round 2 with his four birdies and three bogeys, while Snedeker had to overcome a double-bogey on No. 11 to finish with his 68.
Also in contention to move up the leaderboard are players like Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth, three talented young players who are all one-under.
Adam Scott is just a stroke behind that group at even par, but he remained upbeat after the round:
He is in much better shape than Phil Mickelson, who ended his day at three strokes over par. He came into the week looking to complete his career Grand Slam, but it seems like he is too far off the lead to come back.
Then again, it remains difficult to imagine anyone catching Kaymer at this point. The current leader has been especially impressive over the first two days and simply has to avoid making too many mistakes to lose his spot on the leaderboard.
It's looking like the next two days will be a giant race for second place.
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