If you’ve been following my musings over at the WSJ, then you know I threw out objectivity before the first shot of the tournament. (At least I’m not clapping after pressers, though — ahem!) But figuratively I’ve got my pom-poms out. Rory McIlroy is playing unbelievable golf. Unbelievable. His two-day total of 131 is the lowest in US Open history and he’s the first player to reach 13-under. He also tied Tiger Woods’ record set in 2000 at Pebble Beach for the largest 36-hole lead (six shots). And if you don’t want to see Rory pull through and win the US Open on Sunday, then you must be a miserable human being who hates life.
Here’s a post-round interview with Rory, thanks to TourPlayers.com.
His fellow competitors are already playing for second place because they’re so far back! Let’s hear what some of them have to say:
*If he keeps playing the way he’s playing we’re all playing for second place. That many shot lead going into the weekend if he keeps playing the way he’s playing it’s going to be impossible to catch him. You’re trying to shoot the lowest number you can. I personally won’t look at the leaderboard all weekend because there’s no point. Just try to shoot as good as I can and find out how it stacks up on Sunday…I think everybody would agree he’s probably got more talent in his pinky than I have in my whole body. He is unbelievably talented.” --Brandt Snedeker
*”If McIlroy keeps playing the way he does, he’s uncatchable, but I can’t control what he does. I’m just going to play the best I can and add them up after 72 holes and see how I do…
At one under par I was going forward but at two over par I’m not feeling so good about things. The form Rory is in, it is a long way back. He’s got enough experience and I think he’s learned enough at this stage. This golf course suits him. It will only suit him even more on the weekend as they’ll toughen it up. It plays to a guy who has a lead. He’s in a great position. Augusta can always catch up with you. On any of those par fives you can take par five with your rival making eagle but there’s not holes like that out here. Most of the holes if you hit a bad shot you are making bogey. There’s not big swing holes.” –Matt Kuchar
*“I think it would be great for him to win. He’s a wonderful player, very nice kid. I get along very well with him, too. It would be nice. Even if what happened at Augusta would have not happened, it would be nice for him to win. I think he deserves it, and hopefully he’ll be able to do it.” --Sergio Garcia (who then added he had bigger worries than Rory — not in a negative way.)
*”He’s got enough experience and I think he’s learned enough at this stage. This golf course suits him. It will only suit him even more on the weekend as they’ll toughen it up. It plays to a guy who has a lead. He’s in a great position. Augusta can always catch up with you. On any of those par fives you can take par five with your rival making eagle but there’s not holes like that out here. Most of the holes if you hit a bad shot you are making bogey. There’s not big swing holes.” –Padraig Harrington
*It’s crazy, isn’t it? He just hit it in the water, though, I saw at 18. But to be 13-under, pretty incredible. But there’s a long ways to go yet. I mean, just got to keep hanging in there and keep trying to shoot under par. He’s got to come back. The way he’s playing now, it doesn’t seem like he’ll do that, but you’ve just got to keep fighting and see what happens. But pretty incredible what he’s done so far.” –Steve Stricker
*”Although he is 22 years old he’s a very experienced young man and his experience at Augusta will stand him in good stead here. He probably won’t get a better US Open lay out that suits him than this. You have to drive the ball very well and he’s probably one of the best drivers to hit a ball that I’ve ever seen. I wish him all the best. I’m going to go out in the morning and try and post a number and get under par and see if I can have a shot at it on Monday.
*”Rory is very impressive. He’s playing great. It’s nice to see a player in total control. It doesn’t happen too often. I had it in the first round at Wentworth and he is finding it. It’s never easy to lead from the front, but he is playing well and I hope he keeps playing well.” –Luke Donald
*”He’s two groups behind me, and I heard, oh, here we go. It’s cool to see after the Masters and what happened to him. He’s a good kid. At 21 years old, I couldn’t be out here. I know how hard it is to play out here, and to do what he’s doing is phenomenal. It’s good for the game. I mean, tearing it up like this. The golf course is very gettable today. I mean, I had at least eight looks inside of ten feet for birdie today, and I think I only made three of them or four of them. It’s gettable. It’s nice to see that he’s doing it after the Masters and everything. He’s a good kid, and we’ll see what happens on the weekend.” –Robert Garrigus
“I caught a bit of his round over breakfast. You forget the rest of the field is one or two under par. It’s tough to keep it in perspective. If you can drive it long and straight on this course it works well. He’s probably the best driver of the ball I’ve ever seen. We nicknamed him the BMW because he is the Ultimate Driving Machine. I played off his drives at the Ryder Cup. I’d love to do it for one week playing off his drives. Fair play he’s decimated this US Open golf course and this is no easy test. It’s an amazing display of golf.” –Graeme McDowell
*”Well, I think his score becomes relevant when you’re talking about the last three or four holes of the golf tournament. I mean, if I get myself in contention on Sunday, that’s when it becomes relevant, and if it’s a 15-shot lead, then it’s irrelevant. If it’s less than that, I mean, if it’s a handful of shots, you could say it’s somewhat relevant. Right now it’s completely and utterly irrelevant.” –Zach Johnson
*“The golf course is set up — you can hit it from the rough a little bit, but you cannot make a good score from the rough. You can make the odd par, but if you hit it in there too many times you will be punished. But I think it’s a very, very fair setup, and if Rory is going to lose this, he’s going to need a bit of help.” --Robert Karlsson
*”Rory is obviously running away with it so we are pretty much playing for second unless something crazy happens tomorrow. I hope he wins it though. He’s a nice person and he deserves it especially after the Masters. A lot of people were criticizing him then so I’d like to see him do it. He’s shot six and five under. His driving is long enough to take short irons into the greens and I know he holed a shot on the eighth but still 11 under after two rounds at the U.S. Open is impressive and it’s nice to see.” –Martin Kaymer
*Here’s a bit from Lee Westwood’s transcript. It’s kinda funny because I can see him saying all that with a smirk on his face, but at times, I thought, “Oh, burn!”
Q. When you go out on a weekend and there’s that kind of a gap, does it change the approach that you have when you go out like you have to go out and make another number?
LEE WESTWOOD: I’m more looking at Y.E. Yang, now who’s in second spot, trying to catch him, because if I’m going to win the tournament, then I’m going to need Rory to play poorly over the weekend. I might play great and shoot 11 under par and get to 10, but he’s still got to shoot if he shoots level at the weekend then he wins. But when you’ve got a six shot lead, as I know, because I’ve had a few six shot leads, everybody gives you the tournament almost, so in everybody’s mind he’s probably already won it. They’re probably debating whether he’s already won it on TV.
Q. Is it comparable to Pebble Beach in 2000 when people thought they were playing for second place?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think that’s the attitude I’m going to go with over the next couple of days to try and get past whoever is in the second spot, and we’ll see what Rory does. He’s had leads before.*
Q. What advice would you give to Rory going in with two rounds to go?
LEE WESTWOOD: I’m supposed to beat him over the next two days. I’m hardly going to give him advice, am I?
We can’t predict the future, but if you had to muster a guess, do you think Rory can hang on to his six-shot lead? As Y.E. Yang was reminded, he was six shots behind Tiger Woods after 36 holes when he won the ’09 PGA Championship. Whatever. Keep doing what you’re doing, Rory!
*Really? Bitter? Cheap shot?