It's Martin Kaymer's world, and we're just golfing in it.
After an extremely impressive five-under 65 in Round 1, Kaymer was back at it on Friday with yet another 65 to enter the weekend at 10 under par.
This extraordinary feat on such a challenging course gave Kaymer the all-time lowest 36-hole score in a U.S. Open, according to a tweet from ESPN Stats & 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
Will he run away with the tournament?
We'll find out in short order, as Saturday promises to bring plenty of excitement while this strong field jockeys for position.
Here's a look at the current leaderboard:
With Day 3 of the 2014 U.S. Open looming large, let's take a look at a few storylines to watch for as the action gets underway from Pinehurst No. 2.
Day 3 Storylines
Will Kaymer Continue to Dominate?
Kaymer's score of 10 under through the tournament's opening 36 holes is simply incredible. However, what's even more incredible is the fact that no other player in this year's field could even come close.
Heading into the weekend, Brendon Todd sits in second place at four under par. Yes, that's a six-stroke differential—in a U.S. Open.
History leads us to believe that no one will catch Kaymer this year. A tweet from ESPN's Trey Wingo sums it up nicely:
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 U.S. Open is a highly unpredictable tournament. Rest assured the USGA will do everything possible to keep extremely low numbers from accumulating at Pinehurst No. 2—although that could certainly help Kaymer, as it will prevent anyone from making a big run.
It appears as though Kaymer is poised to finish atop the leaderboard this year—barring any unexpected setbacks or meltdowns, of course.
Will a Big Name Rise to the Challenge?
The absence of Tiger Woods looms large over the 2014 U.S. Open. Without golf's most polarizing player in the field, the pressure for the sport's biggest names to step up is at an all-time high.
One of the players who could potentially step up is Rory McIlroy. In fact, McIlroy has already expressed his feelings regarding Woods' absence, courtesy of a tweet from Golf Central:
"Yea, I'm sad... I miss him" - Rory McIlroy jokingly on Tiger Woods' absence from the #USOpen— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) June 11, 2014
McIlroy got off to a rocky start, posting a one-over 71 on Thursday. He rebounded nicely on Friday, posting a two-under 68 and sits nine strokes behind Kaymer heading into the weekend.
If McIlroy can put a nice surge together on Saturday—and get a little help from Kaymer—he could squeeze his way into contention heading into the tournament's final round.
With Phil Mickelson continuing to show less-than-top form—he's three over for the tournament—it must be McIlroy, Jordan Spieth or Adam Scott who steps up over the weekend.
The U.S. Open is missing some of its allure without Woods in the field, and these players can easily captivate the world with stellar performances.
Battle for Second?
All right, let's put it this way: Should Kaymer continue to perform in his invincible manner, we'll have a pretty interesting battle for second place.
The little-known Todd sits in second place at four under for the tournament. He's rather inexperienced on the PGA Tour but did manage one victory at the Byron Nelson Championship earlier this season.
PGA Tour noted Todd will be playing with Kaymer on Saturday:
Brendon Todd is in the clubhouse at 4 under and he'll have a tee time with Martin Kaymer tomorrow at the #USOpen.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 13, 2014
That's no easy feat.
He's chased by Kevin Na and Brandt Snedeker at three under and by five players tied at two under.
Currently, there are 16 players within four strokes of second place. It should be safe to say this year's runner-up position is completely up for grabs.
With the field so close, should Kaymer stumble, we could have one very interesting tournament on our hands. After all, some people—notably Jeff Howe of The Boston Globe—are hoping for a closer tournament at Kaymer's expense:
Martin Kaymer needs to visit Triple Bogey City and fast.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) June 13, 2014
Whether we end up with a battle for first or second, one thing is certain: There's plenty of drama and excitement remaining for each competitor near the top of the leaderboard.