Rory McIlroy told you everything you needed to know about his demeanour when, last night, after facing the inevitable questions about how he would perform after the Masters (where the Northern Irishman imploded with a back nine 43 to cost him his first Major championship) he responded with intelligence and maturity. McIlroy knows the questions and doubt will come. He also knows his first Major triumph will come.
At the time of writing WeeMac is sitting pretty at eleven under par, eight clear of second place Y. E. Yang who is yet to tee off. While the South Korean showed his mettle in staring down Woods and coming out on top at the 2009 US PGA Championship, there is simply no way he can get near the majestic play of McIlroy thus far.
Let me put in context. McIlroy’s current eight shot lead after 36 holes is two better than Woods’ previous record of six, attained the same year he went on to claim this championship by a whopping fifteen strokes in 2000. McIlroy’s card has seen only one blemish in the entire tournament: a heartbreaking double bogey on his final hole of the second round. The lowest score ever recorded in a Major is 63 (a feat McIlroy accomplished last year in the first round of the Open Championship). In two rounds of this year’s US Open he has threatened to break it twice, shooting 65, 66. He is the first player in the history of the tournament to reach the score of thirteen under par.
McIlroy is, quite simply, playing a different course to everyone else. In the same way Barcelona made Manchester United look like novices in this year’s Champions’ League final, so Rory is making everyone else look like they are playing for second best.
Still, we are only half-way through, and, as stated, Y. E. Yang is yet to tee off. But in terms of excitement and hope for the future, McIlroy has provided something extraordinary. How will he cope with the pressure? “I’m just going to take it easy; might go and watch a movie or something this afternoon”. Let’s hope he retains this attitude en route to his first Major championship.