Friday, June 17

2011 U.S. Open: Rory McIlroy Beats Up ‘Neighborhood Bully’

Editor’s note: I’m at Congressional Country Club this week covering the 2011 U.S. Open. Share your U.S. Open thoughts: Comment below or email me at armchairgolfer@gmail.com.

RORY MCILROY HAS POSTED some astonishing numbers at the midway point of the 111th U.S. Open Championship. McIlroy’s 65-66 for 131 sets a 36-hole record. He leads the tournament by a whopping eight shots.

“I don’t really know what to say,” McIlroy said. “It’s been two very, very good days of golf. I put myself in a great position going into the weekend.”

You’re not supposed to do this to U.S. Open courses. Not the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club, not any of them. U.S. Open courses are the biggest and baddest golf courses around. They’re the neighborhood bully, that cruel dude in school everyone feared because he made a sport of hurting people with his fists. The bully was an intimidator, an evil force to be respected and, if possible, avoided.

But on Friday afternoon as the enormity of McIlroy’s 36-hole tear sinks in, it’s as if young Rory sized up the Blue Course and said to himself, “I can take this bully.” On Thursday afternoon playing alongside Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, the Irish tour pro extracted six birdies from Congressional on his way to a bogey-free 6-under 65 and a three-shot lead.

In Friday’s second round, McIlroy picked up where he left off on a course that was softened by rain on Thursday night. He made two birdies and an eagle on the outward nine to card a 4-under 32. After a string of four consecutive pars, he reeled off three birdies in the next four holes to go 7 under for his round and 13 under for the tournament. No one had ever reached 13-under par in the 111-year history of the U.S. Open. Not even Tiger Woods.

The neighborhood bully was on the receiving end of a serious thumping, and the crowd loved it. They cheered and cheered and cheered. The young lad had knocked Congressional down, stomped all over it and taken all the lunch money it had stolen through the years. No doubt, our hero Rory would donate the recovered funds to the Haiti relief effort.

But just when we thought that big, bad Blue Course was down for the count, bloodied and completely humiliated, it reached out and tripped McIlroy on the way to the clubhouse celebration. Rory stumbled at the last hole, making a double bogey, the first blemish on his scorecard in two days.

The bully will be waiting for him tomorrow. You can count on it.

“I know more than probably anyone else what can happen,” McIlroy said. “So I’ve got to stay really focused and try and finish this thing off.“

To be continued.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:
2011 U.S. Open: A Rock and a Hard Place
2011 U.S. Open: Day One Belongs to Rory McIlroy
2011 U.S. Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes
2011 U.S. Open: A 16-Year-Old Player and Other Notes
2011 U.S. Open: ‘Big Blue’ Ready to Challenge Field of 156

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