Germany's Martin Kaymer is doing his best to discourage the rest of the field at this year's U.S. Open from showing up for Sunday's final round at Pinehurst No. 2.
Instead of settling for par en route to the eight-over score he predicted would win this year's tournament, Kaymer has set the course ablaze, shooting a U.S. Open-record 10-under 130 through the first 36 holes.
As a result, the 2010 PGA Championship winner will tee off with a comfortable lead Saturday.
Below, we'll get you up to speed on the latest leaderboard updates and predict how the remainder of the tournament will play out this weekend.
2014 U.S. Open Predictions
Phil Mickelson's Struggles Will Continue
Phil Mickelson's bid for a first U.S. Open crown was seemingly foiled by his poor putting Friday, as he settled for a three-over 73 to fall 13 shots off the lead in Round 2.
Afterward, Lefty talked about how his struggles with the putter impact the rest of his game, per ESPN.com's Bob Harig:
I feel like I'm playing well enough to win the U.S. Open, except for putting. It's kind of the same story. After I've 3-putted three or four times, I kind of lose my focus on the other stuff. It affects my ability to concentrate and my momentum and energy.
It's a frustrating time because I feel like the other parts of my game are there. I had such a great stretch last year putting. I feel like it's in there. It doesn't feel like the ball is coming off bad. I don't feel like the stroke is bad, but I'm just not dialed in. I'm just not making them.
Mickelson's title chances were swallowed up by five bogeys Friday, and there's no question his frustration will carry over into the weekend.
While the spotlight and pressure is off, Mickelson has been desperate to win this tournament, finishing second on six different occasions. Therefore, each missed opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam has to sting a little bit more for the world No. 11.
Lefty's lackluster putting doesn't bode well for his comeback hopes this weekend, and with the title now out of reach, watch for the 43-year-old's struggles to continue over the final two rounds.
Martin Kaymer Will Claim Second Major
Thanks to splendid first- and second-round performances, Kaymer is an overwhelming favorite to conquer Pinehurst No. 2 this weekend.
And while the pressure will heat up Saturday and Sunday, Kaymer shows no signs of slowing down and has given himself tremendous room for error. Not to mention that the players chasing him will be under added stress to play near-flawless golf.
|Projected 2014 U.S. Open Leaderboard After 72 Holes|
The 29-year-old European struggled to explain his eye-opening start to the tournament Friday, but he appears to be in an excellent state of mind at the moment, per ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski.
"I don't know what to say," Kaymer said. "It's just very, very solid. It gets boring the words that I use, but, I mean, there's not much to say. It's just good right now the way I play golf."
Kaymer is halfway home as he prepares to tee off this weekend, and barring an epic collapse, he's poised to add another major title to his resume, per ESPN Stats and Info:
Only 13 players will begin Saturday's third round under par, and while two-time major winner Rory McIlroy is one of them, he'll need plenty of help from Kaymer in order to enter the fray.
The same goes for 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott, who will begin Saturday at even par, 10 strokes back of Kaymer. While both McIlroy and Scott have proved themselves on this stage, the deficit appears to be far too large to overcome in this case.
At this point, the question is no longer will Kaymer win, but by how many strokes?
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