BETHESDA, Md. – Rory McIlroy broke one of the U.S. Open’s most hallowed records Friday while tearing up Congressional Country Club for the second straight day, and held a 6-stroke lead after two rounds of the national championship.
McIlroy shot a 5-under-par 66 to go with his opening-day 65. His score of 11-under 131 was the lowest 36-hole score in Open history, breaking the mark of 132 set in 2009 at Bethpage Black by Ricky Barnes.
The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland birdied the 17th hole to go 13-under for the tournament, the most strokes under par ever in a U.S. Open, beating the record set by Tiger Woods in 2000 at Pebble Beach.
But after playing his first 35 holes without a bogey, McIlroy deposited his second shot into the water at the 18th and carded a double bogey.
McIlroy eventually took a 6-shot lead after Y.E. Yang finished with a 69 to hold second place at 137. The margin ties the largest at the midway point of an Open, matching Woods’ mark in 2000.
“These records are nice,” McIlroy said, “but they really don’t mean anything until the end of the tournament.”
McIlroy said his two days at Congressional have felt “quite simple” and that he’s feeling “very comfortable.”
“I’m hitting fairways, hitting greens,” he said. “I’m making my fair share of putts and when I miss the greens I’ve been able to get up and down.”
As for the 18th, where his tee ball ended up in a decent lie in the left rough, he said he was aiming for the front right of the green to take the water out of play. However, some grass got between his clubhead and the ball on impact, and carried the shot to the left, where it bounded off the bank and into the drink.
“It just turned over a little bit, just one of those things,” he said.
McIlroy holed out his 114-yard approach shot at the short par-4 eighth to get him to 10-under par, the fifth player in Open history to hit double digits in that department. That gave him a 6-stroke lead and he added birdies at 14 and 16 in addition to the one at 17.
McIlroy, who missed just three greens all day, also got up and down for par twice, including a 12-foot par save at No. 11.
Yang played steady golf on the front nine but, after a 42-minute delay caused by a thunderstorm, he struggled with his ball-striking on the back nine. However, he followed his two bogeys with birdies and managed to stay somewhat closer to McIlroy.
A five-way tie for third place at 2-under 140 featured Sergio Garcia, Matt Kucher, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson and Robert Garrigus.