Golf: McIlroy moving into record territory at US Open

-A A +A
By Associated Press

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Rory McIlroy holed out from the fairway for eagle on the eighth hole at the U.S. Open to move to 10-under par, building a six-shot lead at the midway point of Friday's second round.

McIlroy's short approach hit the back of the green and bounced twice, then spun backward about 20 feet and dropped into the cup. He thrust both hands in the air and Phil Mickelson, playing in his threesome, applauded.

McIlroy is in record-setting territory. No player has ever been better than 9 under through two rounds of the U.S. Open and nobody has led by more than six at the halfway point.

He is six ahead of Zach Johnson, who eagled No. 6 and was 3-under par through 10, and seven in front of Robert Garrigus, who was 2 under for the day, and Y.E. Yang, who tees off in the afternoon.

McIlroy shot 6-under 65 to open the tournament Thursday. His three-shot lead after the first day was the biggest opening-round cushion at the U.S. Open in 35 years.

Conditions couldn't get much better for a U.S. Open, at least in the morning, even though McIlroy was among the few taking advantage. Soft greens and forgiving rough took some of the bite out of Congressional, a monster course at more than 7,500 yards. McIlroy's first tee shot went slightly left into that rough but he had no problem wedging it out and onto the front of the green.

Counting Thursday's round, he has now hit 25 of 27 greens in regulation for the tournament and still hasn't made a bogey.

"It doesn't feel like a typical U.S. Open, for some reason," McIlroy said after Thursday's play. "The golf course is going to get harder and it's going to get firmer and it's going to get trickier, but I still feel that it's very playable and fair. If you don't hit a fairway, you've still got a chance to hit it on the green and give yourself a chance for birdie."

British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and American Ryan Palmer were in the large group at 2 under, hoping they could make up some ground in the afternoon, when they tee off.

McIlroy, who blew a four-shot lead in the final round of the Masters two months ago, knows how much work there is to do to close out one of these tournaments. The big question is whether anyone will be anywhere near him come Sunday.

"It's always nice to shoot a good first round at any tournament, let alone a major," he said. "But no relief. I know I'm playing well. I know this golf course."

Playing on his 41st birthday Thursday, Mickelson was wild from start to finish. Looking to improve on a 3-over 74 that could have been much worse, Mickelson made three birdies over his first nine holes Friday. But that still meant losing ground to McIlroy, whose 65 followed a first-round 65 at the Masters this year and a 63 at last year's opening round of the British Open, tying the major single-round scoring record.