PINEHURST, N.C. - Only halfway through, Martin Kaymer already has determined how this U.S. Open will end. Either he is going to finish a historic week or somebody is going to make one heck of a comeback.
Those were the options available after Kaymer blitzed through Pinehurst No. 2 and the golf record book Friday. He became the first to open an Open with two consecutive rounds of 65, making shots that surprised even him. Kaymer matched the lowest 36-hole total in major championship history, tied a record with a six-stroke lead and basically said, "so what?"
"Somebody had to do it at some stage . . . It's just very good golf. There's not much to say about it," he said after preserving a bogey-free round with two sand saves in his final four holes. It occurred less than 24 hours after he had said there was no way he could shoot another 65 -- the prediction being the most inaccurate moment of the week for a golfer who hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation and took only 29 putts Friday.
His play on the rain-softened par-70 course (a reported three-quarters of an inch fell overnight) was reminiscent of the way Rory McIlroy throttled Congressional on his way to the 2011 Open title. McIlroy, who was 11 under par (albeit with a higher score) through 36 back then, is the only player other than Kaymer ever to have finished double-digits under par halfway through a U.S. Open.
"Obviously, I played at Congressional and I thought, 'How can you shoot that low?' And that's probably what a lot of other people think about me right now," said Kaymer, the 29-year-old from Dusseldorf, Germany, who won the 2010 PGA Championship and this year's Players. "It's not like we play a different golf course. I'm sure he must have played so solid without making many mistakes. And today, I didn't make any mistakes."
Keegan Bradley, who played with Kaymer and shot a respectable 69 to reach 2 under, said, "It was fun watching him hit every fairway, every green and make every putt. It was pretty awesome."
Kaymer birdied his first hole, the par-5 10th, and just kept rolling. He repeated Friday that he is simply playing naturally, not focusing on swing mechanics and technique. "The way I play golf right now, I shouldn't think too much about technique. I'm very happy with the way I hit the ball," he said.
Maybe the only thing that can stop him is a sore left wrist, which he wrapped Friday. He said it is not a problem, "I just played too much golf."
He took fewer swings than anyone else again Friday. True, he did benefit from the U.S. Golf Association's benign setup. Still, no one else played the way he did: not McIlroy, who is 1 under after shooting 68 and certainly not sentimental favorite Phil Mickelson, 3 over after shooting 73.
In second is Brendon Todd, 28, a three-time North Carolina high school champion and recent PGA Tour winner, making his Open debut. After he finished his bogey-free 67 Friday, he just said, "Wow!"
"Kaymer's performance has been incredible," Todd said. "He's playing a brand of golf that we haven't seen probably in a long time, since maybe Tiger. We're going to go out and do our best . . . and hope he doesn't play his best brand of golf."
But Kaymer has control of everyone else's smiles right now, as much as he would rather not think that way. "I don't want to put pressure on myself," he said. "There's enough pressure playing in the U.S. Open and trying to finish as high as possible."