Martin Kaymer matched the lowest opening 36 holes in major golf championship history, firing a second consecutive five-under par 65 to seize an eight-stroke lead at the US Open.
The 29-year-old German posted the lowest 36-hole score in US Open history with a bogey-free round to stand on 10-under par 130 at Pinehurst.
No player in major golf history had ever gone as low as 65 in each of the first two rounds.
“Somebody has to do it at one stage,” Kaymer said. “You need to play very solid and you need a little bit of luck here or there.”
The only other players to score 130 in the first two rounds of a major event were England's Nick Faldo and American Brandt Snedeker, who each opened on 66 and followed with 64 at the British Open, Faldo in 1992 at Muirfield and Snedeker at Lytham in 2012.
“It's just very satisfying,” Kaymer said. “The way I worked my way around the course, I hit some smart shots and didn't play too aggressive. I didn't make many mistakes.”
Kaymer's 130 was one stroke below the old 36-hole US Open mark set by Rory McIlroy at Congressional on his way to winning the 2011 title.
“Very solid again,” Kaymer said. “I didn't make a bogey which is nice. I got tired the last three or four holes but I didn't make any mistakes. Didn't miss many fairways. Didn't miss many greens.”
Afternoon starters, including reigning British Open champion Phil Mickelson, will make a run at trimming his epic eight-shot edge, which would be the largest 36-hole lead in US Open history if it stands.
Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge and Americans Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Brooks Koepka shared second in the clubhouse on 138.
“He's as dialed in as I've seen,” said Bradley. “He's steady and doesn't seem to get too down. That's a good combination for a US Open.”
The largest US Open leads after two rounds have been the six-stroke edges enjoyed by Tiger Woods on his way to victory at Pebble Beach in 2000 and McIlroy in 2011.
But Kaymer is far from complacent, aware that difficult conditions are a trademark of US Opens and disaster could lurk over the last two rounds.
“It's not a done deal,” Kaymer said. “You don't approach Saturday and Sunday in a relaxed way. On Sunday afternoon when you lift the trophy you can relax. You have to keep playing well.”
But even world number one Adam Scott, who fired a 67 to stand on level par, 10 strokes adrift, admits overtaking Kaymer will be a difficult task.
“Potentially, he goes out tomorrow and plays better than everyone again and this thing's over,” Scott said.
“If he does it for two more days, then we're all playing for second spot. But we all know US Opens get very difficult and if I can just somehow put together two really good rounds, maybe slowly but surely I'll creep my way up towards Martin.”
Bradley warned that Kaymer will face trouble at some stage.
“There's a double (bogey) on every hole if you're not careful,” he said. “There are definitely going to be times you have to battle and grind. If he can get through those stretches on par or one over, that's what's going to win.”
Only last month, Kaymer captured the Players Championship to snap a three-year win drought that saw him plunge from world number one to outside the top 60, boosting his confidence.
Now he is staging an impressive display of precision shotmaking capped by clutch putting that could produce his second major title after the 2010 PGA Championship.
“It's very impressive It's incredible,” de Jonge said of Kaymer's round. “More surprised than anything. I didn't see 10-under out there.
Overnight rain softened Pinehurst's notorious turtle-backed greens to their slowest and most receptive state in weeks, no one mastering the opportunity like 28th-ranked Kaymer.
“Martin is obviously playing great,” said American Ken Duke. “It's difficult but when you are on top of your game like Martin is, it's out there.”
Kaymer had predicted eight-over par might be the winning score earlier this week when hot and dry weather had Pinehurst lightning fast and formidable.
Reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson, who struggled to an opening 76, fired a 70 and was set to miss the cut for the weekend to the low 60 and ties.
Reigning British Open champion Phil Mickelson, a six-time US Open runner-up seeking a victory to complete a career grand slam, was on one-under with 16 holes to play.– AFP