The US Open leaderboard has been a one man show for two days straight. However, if anyone other than Rory McIlroy was topping the leaderboard and setting records, the Open would be considered over by now. Thanks to McIlroy’s past near-misses, his six shot lead and -11 through two days isn’t considered unbeatable, at least not yet. As such, although no one else has come close to the leader, several players still have some hope going into the weekend.
Y.E. Yang serves as the top contender as the moment, since he got up to -5 at the end of Friday’s second round. This makes McIlroy’s double-bogey at 18 all the more noteworthy, as it shaved his lead down to six. If he stops making so many birdies and breaking US Open records, Yang only needs a few good holes of his own to get into striking distance.
But other than Yang, no one else is closer than nine shots back, so these challengers need a lot more help. However, there are notable figures like Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar who are among those at -2. Behind them, Davis Love III, Robert Rock, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have 36 holes to get on a big hot streak.
Since figures like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson aren’t among those close to McIlroy, he would appear to have a clear route home. Yet for the entire weekend, all anyone will talk about is his disappointing results at the 2010 British Open and PGA Championship, and at the Masters this spring.
As such, although the leaderboard is exceedingly one-sided so far, McIlroy’s past is the only thing adding any drama to the Open. But if he is still up by six shots or more after Saturday, then it will be much harder to pretend that the tournament isn’t over. Even having a round between 76 and 80 might not hurt that much, since big comebacks and a long string of birdies are uncommon at this event- or they were until McIlroy’s first two days.
Should another collapse take place, Yang is the early favorite to benefit, especially since he’s won a Grand Slam before. In fact, he was the first player to ever rally against Tiger Woods in a major, back at the 2009 PGA Championship. Yang hasn’t done that much since then, but Woods hasn’t either.
But if there is no rally, the only thing that will pass for drama is whether McIlroy will break more US Open records. For the first time in the tournament’s history, the leaderboard showed a player at -13, even if it was just temporary. Even Woods only reached -12 in his historic 2000 blowout, and McIlroy has two days to get back to -13 or higher.
In more ways than one, McIlroy’s biggest opponent left is history- yet will Yang or another surprise contender put up a bigger fight of his own?
Yahoo Sports- “US Open Championship- Leaderboard”