Well, he's almost a child.
Through two rounds of the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, 22-year old Rory McIlroy seems to be putting on a clinic for a field of players who are mostly much older than he is. On the strength of rounds of 65 and 66, he now owns the 36-hole scoring record for the U.S. Open at 11-under par, as well as a six-shot lead over Y.E. Yang and a nine-shot lead over five others. Before a double bogey to close out his round, McIlroy reached 13-under, a mark which no other player has ever reached in a U.S. Open. Previously, Tiger Woods and Gil Morgan had been the only two players to ever reach 12-under at any point in the season's second major.
McIlroy has proved to be a very fast starter in major championships in his young career. At last year's British Open, he opened with a nine-under par round of 63 at The Old Course at St. Andrews, and in this year's Masters, he led through one, two, and three rounds.
But at Augusta back in April, his big-tournament experience showed through, as a final-nine 43 contributed to McIlroy's Masters collapse and paved the way for Charl Schwartzel's victory. This week, though, it appears McIlroy has bounced back from his April disappoinment.
At least so far.
McIlroy's first 36 holes have been stellar, but they are decidedly less fraught with huge-pressure situations than Saturdays and especially Sundays in major championships. At Augusta two-plus months ago, McIlroy wilted under such pressure, an experience which was undoubtedly very instructive. We will see just how much he has learned over the course of Saturday and Sunday's rounds.
Of the two professionals with Connecticut ties in this U.S. Open field, only one will be playing the weekend. Following rounds of 72 and 73, Fairfield native J.J Henry sits at three-over par and in a tie for 44th place, comfortably inside the cut line, which will come at four over par when the seven groups still left on the course due to two weather delays finish their rounds Saturday morning. Tim Petrovic shot 75 in the first round and is seven over par for his second round with a hole to play, meaning he will miss the cut by at least a half dozen shots.
Picks-wise, five of my seven pre-tournament picks will make the cut, with one of them in serious contention:
MC: Angel Cabrera--71-78 (+8)
MC: Ryan Moore--73-77 (+9)
T57: Donald--74-72 (+4)
T57: Goosen--73-73 (+4)
T57: Manassero--74-72 (+4)
T26: Mickelson--74-69 (+1)
T3: Garcia--69-71 (-2)
As crazy as it sounds, I would venture to say that anybody as far down as two over par still has at least an outside chance of contending with two stellar weekend rounds and some late struggles by McIlroy. Although those players are 13 shots behind the Northern Irishman, they are only seven out of second place, And in two rounds, seven shots can certainly be made up as the pressure of the U.S. Open mounts.