PINEHURST, N.C. – Rory McIlroy knows something about holding a big lead halfway through a U.S. Open.
In 2011, he shot 65-66 and opened up a six-shot advantage at Congressional. He pushed even deeper into red numbers over the weekend, shooting 68-69, finishing at 16-under 268 and winning by a record eight shots.
While no one expects Martin Kaymer to duplicate that record-setting performance at Pinehurst No. 2 – he sits at 10-under 130, the lowest 36-hole score in U.S. Open history – McIlroy said the German, up by six, might do well to keep a similarly aggressive mindset.
“If I was Martin, hopefully I would be thinking about how to get seven ahead, and then how to get eight ahead, and then how to get nine ahead,” McIlroy said. “Especially on a golf course like this, you can’t go out trying to protect anything. You’ve got to keep the foot to the floor and just keep it going. … If you get defensive, it’s detrimental.”
As for McIlroy, he shook off an opening bogey Friday to post a second-round 68 and sit in a tie for 10th, nine shots back heading into the weekend here.
“If someone had told me that I was going to be standing here 1 under par after 36 holes at the start of the week, I would have taken it,” he said. “I would have said, ‘Perfect, let me play the weekend and see what happens.’ But what Martin has done over the first couple of days has made 1 under par look pretty average.
“But I’m happy with where my game is and there’s a lot of golf left to play, so we’ll see what happens over the weekend.”