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The Early Lead
Posted at 04:10 PM ET, 06/17/2011

2011 U.S. Open live blog: Rory McIlroy sets 36-hole Open record; play suspended just after 8 p.m. due to darkness


Rory McIlroy and some of his friends. (Ricky Carioti / WASHINGTON POST)

Leader board; tee times, hole-by-hole; leaders’ scorecards; complete coverage; Round 2 gallery; Round 1 live blog

We’re live blogging the U.S. Open, so to keep up with what’s happening, hit refresh.

Earlier: McIlroy makes history; for a full account of his round, scroll down to 1:04 p.m. on this post and keep reading.

8:15 p.m.: Thanks for joining us on the live blog again today. We’ll be back tomorrow on The Early Lead with more live updates from the U.S. Open. Plenty of good stuff coming from our staffers who were out at Congressional, so keep it locked to washingtonpost.com for those stories.

8:09 p.m.: According to Rick Maese at Congressional, play is suspended due to darkness. The 21 remaining players will finish their rounds in the morning, establish the cut and will then regroup and start the third round.

8:04 p.m.: Play has been suspended at Congressional.

8:02 p.m.: Via a tweet from Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga): “Think this lead’s a problem? Not for Y.E. Yang. He just said he trailed by 10 after 54 holes last year, and won by 3! (Yes, at Korean Open.)”

8:00 p.m.: Just 14 players are in the red right now, and one of them is Ryan Palmer. Palmer has turned in five birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey and sits at 1-under as he closes out his round on No. 9. Brandt Jobe made a run late, as well. After bogeying Nos. 2, 3 and 4, Jobe came back with birdie, eagle, par and birdie to get to 1-under.

7:42 p.m.: We’re closing in on the end of Day Two at Congressional. A few groups still out there. Lee Westwood just wrapped up his 68 and is at 1-over going into the weekend. The projected cut is at 4-over and I’ll update the major names that missed that cut line once the final group wraps things up later this evening.

7:39 p.m.: Davis Love III bogeys the par-5, No. 9 and will go into the clubhouse at 1-under, 10 shots back of McIlroy.

7:37 p.m.: Ernie Els finishes up with a par and at 6-over will miss the cut, as will Jim Furyk at 6-over.

7:34 p.m.: Davis Love III didn’t have much to work with on No. 9 and had to really work to get out of trouble. Sitting at 2-under, Love was in the rough and down a hill, where he couldn’t see the hole. A great shot, though, from 35-yards landed just a couple feet from the pin.

7:30 p.m.: Anthony Kim nails his putt to stay at 4-over and remain inside that cut line.

7:29 p.m.: Davis Love III’s second shot appears to have gone off to the left and into the woods somewhere. Anthony Kim had a nice shot out of the pine needles, with his right foot slipping he kept the ball on line and now he has a short putt to stay at 4-over and stick around for the weekend. Yang finishes with a 69 for the day, 5-under par and six shots back of McIlroy.

7:21 p.m.: Stewart Cink just bogeyed 18 and that drops him to 5-over, just on the outside looking in at the projected cut of 4-over.

7:15 p.m.: How bout that! Davis Love III making a bit of a move with a birdie on No. 8 to drop to 2-under and into a six-way tie for third.

7:13 p.m.: Yang is pretty comfortable, it seems. After a nice drive on No. 18 he stood to side, turned and waved at the ESPN camera following him.

7:04 p.m.: I was hoping Davis Love III would make a run to close out his round, but he has gone par-par-par-par on the last four holes with Nos. 8 and 9 remaining.

7:00 p.m.: Still keeping an eye on Yang, who just eased in a par putt on 17 to stay at 4-under. Now he heads to No. 18, which McIlroy and Phil both double-bogeyed earlier this afternoon. We’ll see if he can stay within six shots of the leader.

6:47 p.m.: It’s been rather uneventful since McIlroy headed off the course and out to the movies. There are five players on the course at 5-over who are fighting to make the cut, and seven others at 4-over. Definitely more action there than at the top of the leaderboard, where Yang has fought to remain within sight of McIlroy but no one else has gotten any closer than 1-under in the afternoon.

6:43 p.m.: Yang nails a six-foot putt for birdie, pulls back to 5-under through 16 and is once again six shots back of McIlroy.

6:37 p.m.: A weather warning is out at Congressional, but thankfully no delay. Yang’s shot out of the bunker left him about 85 yards out. He puts his third shot just a few feet from the pin.

6:25 p.m.: Looks like Yang’s tee shot on No. 16 goes into the bunker on the left side of the fairway. He’ll have some more work to do to stay within seven shots of McIlroy.

6:20 p.m.: Yang with another par, which is impressive considering where his tee shot landed. He’s at 4-under through 15.

6:18 p.m.: While Yang remains the only one on the course that’s staying within the range of McIlroy’s 11-under, there are a few other things worth noting. Marcel Siem, who shot a 79 yesterday, is 5-under on the day through 17. Meanwhile, Davis Love III is 1-under but is coming up on Nos. 5-6-7-8. Yesterday he went bogey, birdie, birdie, birdie in that stretch. We’ll see if he can make some noise.

6:13 p.m.: Yang puts his second shot about 85 yards from the pin. Anthony Kim, by the way, is also flirting with that cut line. He bogeyed No. 14 and is at 4-over through 14.

6:07 p.m.: Yang with a par on No. 14, but he just put his tee shot on No. 15 into the deep rough. Looks like he wont be able to get to the green in two. He’s had an up-and-down go of it in the last four holes — bogey, birdie, bogey, par.

6:02 p.m.: ESPN commentators point out that only 13 players are in the red at the Open. McIlroy the leader at 11-under, Davis Love III just birdied No. 3 to move to 1-under, joining six others 10 back of McIlroy. A four-way tie for third at 2-under, and Yang in second at 4-under.

5:56 p.m.: The projected cut is currently at 4-over, and some interesting names are within a stroke or two of missing that cut. Angel Cabrera is 5-over through 14 and Adam Scott is 5-over through 11, while Jim Furyk is 6-over through 11.

5:47 p.m.: Yang did well to get out of the rough, but his par putt just missed. He’s bogeyed for the second time in three holes to drop back down to 4-under.

5:45 p.m.: The “feature” group of the afternoon — Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer — ranked one, two, three in the world haven’t made much of a run at McIlroy. Through 11, Donald is 3-under on the day and at even-par, Westwood is 2-under on the day and 2-over and Kaymer is 1-under on the day and 2-over for the tournament.

5:39 p.m.: Yang’s tee shot at the par-3, No. 13 goes long and disappears into the rough behind the green.

5:33 p.m.: Yang gets right back to 5-under with a birdie on 12, a nice easy putt after a very strong second shot left him just a few feet from the cup. He’s six back of McIlroy again.

5:23 p.m.: Having a little fun with the leaderboard. If you removed McIlroy from this tournament, it’d actually be quite a good race at the top. Yang (-4) is two strokes ahead of a six-way tie for third, four others are tied at 1-under and 14 more are just four back of Yang’s would-be lead...again, if McIlroy wasn’t playing.

5:20 p.m.: Yang pushes the putt and leaves it just right of the cup. He’ll bogey and fall to 4-under through 11. McIlroy’s lead is back to seven strokes.

5:16 p.m.: Yang pitches out of the rough from behind a tree and onto the green. A tremendous shot. He has a very manageable putt for par.

5:11 p.m.: Yang, six back of McIlroy, just put his second shot on No. 11 about 40 feet left and over the spectators. Right now, he’s the only guy trying to make things more interesting at the top of the leaderboard.

5:09 p.m.: Luke Donald leaves a putt just an inch short of the cup. Brutal. He’ll stay at even-par through 10.

5:01 p.m.: Steve Irwin, son of Hale Irwin, talks about his Open experience.

5:00 p.m.: Yang with a phenomenal shot out of the bunker as the ball rolls just about two feet from the cup. He’ll stay at 5-under through 10. Stewart Cink, meanwhile, sees his ball nearly go in the creek but stay about a foot from the water. He pitches out from there.

4:51 p.m.: Yang comes out of the delay on No. 10 and while his tee shot clears the water, it lands in a bunker. Yang had birdied two of his previous three holes before the delay.

4:47 p.m.: Play resumes at Congressional after a 40-minute lightning delay. Woohoo!

4:44 p.m.: So besides McIlroy, who else has had a pretty good day at Congressional? McIlroy was 5-under in the second round, and four others finished 4-under on the day: Alexander Noren (E), Patrick Cantlay (E), Kevin Chappell (+1) and Bo Van Pelt (+1). Marcel Siem (+4) is 4-under through 11 today.

4:33 p.m.: Today Northwestern grad Stephen Colbert (Class of 1986) delivered NU’s commencement speech. The world’s top-ranked player and Northwestern alum Luke Donald (Class of 2001) is 2-under through eight today, and 1-over for the tournament. This is what happens when you let a Northwestern grad take over a live blog and a lightning delay hits.

4:24 p.m.: According to Capital Weather Gang, storm/lightning should pass in about 30 minutes. It’s headed toward southeast Montgomery County/Northwest D.C.

4:18 p.m.: We all saw who had the best day today, but what about the guys who had really rough outings? How about Christopher DeForest, who double-bogeyed 18 yesterday to drop to even par, and then bogeyed five of six holes from Nos. 13-18 today to drop to 5-over after two rounds. Or Geoff Ogilvy, who won the Open in 2006, double-bogeying 12, then going birdie, bogey, bogey, bogey, par to sit at 9-over for the tournament.

4:08 p.m.: I have just been informed that play has been suspended at 4:04 p.m. due to lightning. That will make my upcoming fun facts the only form of golf entertainment you have...for a bit at least.

4:05 p.m.: Hey guys, Paul Tenorio stepping back in for Cindy Boren here at the live blog. I missed all the McIlroy fun stuff (well, I watched but didn’t get to blog) and so now I step in to see if anyone can make a run at him. It appears as though Y.E. Yang wants to make things interesting as he just birdied No. 9 to pull to 5-under, within six strokes of McIlroy.

3:45 p.m.: With a birdie on No. 9, Heath Slocum has third place all to himself. He’s at 3 under for the day, 3 under overall.

3:31 p.m.: Y.E. Yang has chipped a stroke off Rory McIlroy’s lead. Yes, McIlroy still leads by seven strokes, even after Yang birdied No. 7.

Unfortunately, Yang seems to have put his shot at No. 8 into a hole at Congressional.

3:21 p.m.: Say this about Rory McIlroy — he has a knack for saying the right things after unfortunate moments. Just as he did after his Masters meltdown, he seemed to have the right perspective when he talked to Bob Costas moments ago. Most of Costas’ questions were on the double-bogey on 18 and McIlroy replied, “I’ve got to concentrate on the 35 positive holes.

3 p.m.: We’ve been quiet because the golfers from the afternoon threesomes have been. Maybe, as with Tiger at Pebble in 2000, they’re ready to sit back and watch someone make history (or not).

Y.E. Yang is playing par golf and remains at 3-under, eight off the lead. Heath Slocum is 2-under for the day and the tournament, putting him in a five-way tie for third. The rest of those currently at 2-under are all in the clubhouse.

And how bout that threesome of the top-three players in the world? No. 1 Luke Donald is even for the day and 3-over; No. 2 Lee Westwood is -1, +3 and No. 3 Martin Kaymer is in danger of missing the cut at +2, +5.

2:23 p.m.: Bubba Watson, one of the Golf Boys, opens with a birdie. He shot 71 Thursday.

1:57 p.m.: Will anyone make a run at Rory McIlroy this afternoon?

Y.E. Yang, who’s alone in second place, parred the first hole. Ryan Palmer, the only one of the golfers in third place who has yet to tee off, goes at 2:19 p.m. Davis Love III has just teed off.

If it seems as if McIlroy’s run sucked all the air out of the room, well, he kind of has. Zach Johnson, who is in a tie for third after a 69, said of his score: “Right now it’s completely and utterly irrelevant.”

1:04 p.m. (Updated with quotes): Rory McIlroy wrapped up a historic second round with his biggest mistake of the U.S. Open so far: his first bogey of the tournament, a double-bogey at 18.

Over the first two rounds, he said has taken an aggressive approach, saying he was making “really committed swings at the targets that you choose. That’s what I’ve been doing the first two days.” For 35 holes, it was working spectacularly on a course that McIlroy said suits him well.

“There’s a lot of right-to-left holes here and I’m every comfortable hitting the ball that way,” McIlroy said. “When the greens get firm — they’re still soft — I can hit it high enough that it can stop a 4 or 5 iron on these greens, which is a big advantage over other guys in the field. If I can put my ball in the fairway here, it gives me a great chance.”

And the double-bogey on 18?

“It looked like a decent enough lie,” McIlroy said. “It was sort of where the spectators had sort of been walking, and I just got a little bit of grass caught in between the club face and the ball and it just turned over a little bit. Just one of those things.”

Despite the late glitch today, he finished with a 66 and a two-day 131 total that broke Ricky Barnes’ 2009 record for 36 holes. (Barnes set that on a par-70 course.) And there may be more history to come. McIlroy is on pace to set an Open record for largest 36-hole lead. Tiger Woods set that record (six strokes) at Pebble Beach in 2000.

“I’ve played two really good rounds of golf,” McIlroy said, “but I know I have to play another two really good rounds of golf if I want to win this tournament, so that’s all I can really think about.”

Phil Mickelson finished with a double-bogey as well for a 2-under 69 on the day. He didn’t speak with the media after a double-bogey at 18, but the USGA caught up with him. “It was a disappointing finish with that double, but I'm still struggling. Even though I was able to shoot under par today, I was struggling with it.”

(via USGA and Gene Wang)

12:49 p.m.: Everybody into the water!

Phil Mickelson takes his gallery-area shot and send it skying toward the green and flying straight into the drink. And, two minutes later, Rory McIlroy does the same thing.

Mickelson fishes his ball out of the pond.

12:43 p.m.: The finale for Rory McIlroy isn’t going to be easy. He just pushed his tee shot over into the gallery on the left.

And Phil Mickelson’s tee shot flies past McIlroy’s into the gallery.

12:36 p.m.: With a birdie on the par-3 17th hole, Rory McIlroy is now the first golfer to be 13-under in the U.S. Open.

And he leads by 10 strokes.

12:30 p.m.: An ESPN graphic shows that Rory McIlroy’s 12-under par matches Tiger Woods’ 12-under at Pebble in 2000 and Gil Morgan’s 12-under at Pebble in 1992 for the most strokes under par at any point in U.S. Open history.

12:21 p.m.: In one of the few things that hasn’t gone Rory McIlroy’s way today, he misses his putt for eagle at 16 (did we jinx him?) and settles for a birdie that gives him a 9-stroke lead.

Phil Mickelson, an aside on this day, is at 4-under par and tied for eighth.

12:16 p.m.: Rory McIlroy’s performance continues to be just extraordinary. He’s now in position to eagle No. 16 with a 7-foot putt awaiting him.

12:10 p.m.: If McIlroy’s performance holds up today, the historical significance would be stunning:

He’d have the largest lead after 36 holes (See: Woods, Tiger at Pebble Beach in 2000);

He’d have the lowest score after 36 holes (See: Barnes, Ricky and his 132 at Bethpage — a par-70 course — in 2009).

11:59 a.m.: Anybody else wondering what Tiger is doing today? No? Okay.

If Rory McIlroy can see this through the final 18 on Sunday, he would not be the youngest U.S. Open champion (we know you’re wondering...). John McDermott was 19 when he won the first of his two Opens in 1911; McIlroy is 22.

11:55 a.m.: If you’re keeping count of such things, it’s now 33 bogey-free holes for Rory McIlroy, who parred 15.

With a bogey at 14, Zach Johnson joins a five-player gaggle in third with Y.E. Yang, who tees off this afternoon, alone in second.

11:35 a.m.: At 14, it’s birdies for Rory McIlroy, who now leads by eight strokes, and Phil Mickelson, who is 3-under to day and now has gotten back to even for the tournament — hooray for even.

Kyung-tae Kim drops out of second place, leaving Zach Johnson and Y.E. Yang alone there.

Side note: The hottest-selling item in the merchandise tent has nothing to do with McIlroy. It’s a poster showing the 18th green and Congressional's clubhouse

11:15 a.m.: At No. 13, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, the forgotten member of their party, leave putts a hair or two short of the cup. Result: par for each on the hole.

Side note: The man who collapsed Thursday at the Open remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

11:00 a.m.: Rory McIlroy, putting from about seven feet, missed for a birdie on 12 that would have given him an 8-shot lead. Would have.

Phil Mickelson parred the hole.

There’s been some movement among the guys in second place: Kyung-tae Kim has moved up to share the spot with Y.E. Yang and Zach Johnson.

10:41 a.m.: Rory McIlroy is fastest to get to 10-under par in U.S. Open history, according to ESPN statisticians. No golfer had done it in the second round; it took McIlroy 26 holes.

On 11, both McIlroy and Phil Mickelson found themselves in Bunkerville...McIlroy left himself with a 6-footer; Mickelson about a 12-footer. Mickelson misses the put and bogeys the hole. McIlroy sinks the putt and remains bogey-free.

Zach Johnson bogeyed 10, meaning McIlroy’s lead is back to 7 with Johnson and Y.E. Yang tied for second. Robert Garrigus momentarily was up there, ’til his bogey at 13.

10:29 a.m.: Pars for Rory McIlroy, who seems a bit more composed (perhaps he breathed into a paper bag) and Phil Mickelson on 10.

10:18 a.m.: Timeout for a Rory recap...through 27 holes, McIlroy has eight birdies, one eagle, no bogeys.

10:10 a.m.: Rory McIlroy loses a bit of concentration. At the ninth hole, he puts his shot right into the bunker...with his ball lying on the upward slope. He gets out cleanly, but misses a 17-foot putt for birdie. He seemed to be rushing play on the hole, not pausing to read the greens properly, but managed to pull out par on the hole.

He now leads Zach Johnson, who moved to sole possession of second place with a birdie on No. 8, by 6 strokes. Zach Johnson and his group are playing right behind McIlroy’s group.

10:02 a.m.: With a birdie at 10, Robert Garrigus moves into a tie for second at 3-under with Y.E. Yang and Zach Johnson.

9:47 a.m.: Rory McIlroy is 10 under through 26 holes. Yes, indeed. This is becoming absurd.

He eagled No. 8, with a shot so ridiculous that even Phil Mickelson was laughing after the shot from the fairway on the par-4 hole rolled into the cup.

9:42 a.m.: Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters winner, has eagled No. 6 and is tied for second with Y.E. Yang. Kyung-tae Kim has dropped back to a tie for 10th.

9:36 a.m.: As Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson move on to No. 7, where an especially large gallery is three deep behind the tee box. The grandstands around the green are packed — and beer sales don’t begin until 10:30.

Mickelson pars the hole. McIlroy misses a birdie putt by a couple of inches and ends up with par.

9:23 a.m.: Phil Mickelson does the full Phil thing at No. 6 and goes for it, sending his shot out of the rough up and over the pin — leaving the broadcasters to talk about Phil’s “moxie” and giggle. He then pushes the ball 12 feet beyond the pin — and pulls out a birdie! Classic.

McIlroy puts his shot within four feet of the pin — and gets the birdie to go 8-under.

9:20 a.m.: Kyung-tae Kim has birdied 16 to get 3-under par, tied for second with Y.E. Yang (who has an afternoon tee time).

9:12 a.m.: Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson both end up in the rough at No. 6 ... with McIlroy’s ball a little farther into it.

9:07 a.m.: At No. 5, it’s a birdie for Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy makes a putt for par. Next up: No. 6, a reachable hole, fairly easy hole that may be complicated by pin placement. Let’s see what happens.

8:55 a.m.: A quick look at golfers not named McIlroy:

Y.E. Yang, who is in second place after a 68 Thursday, tees off at 1:38 p.m. Seven golfers are tied for third: Kyung-tae Kim is even for the day through six; Robert Garrigus and John Senden are 1-under through five; Sergio Garcia is even through four; Charl Schwartzel is one over through three; Louis Oosthuizen tees off at 1:35 p.m., Ryan Palmer at 2:19 p.m.

8:50 a.m.: Phil Mickelson indeed pulls off a par putt...but it’s gotta be somewhat demoralizing to still be 10 strokes behind the kid, Rory McIlroy, who is playing so well.

8:49 a.m.: Rory McIlroy just extended his lead to four strokes with a 20-plus birdie putt at No. 4.

8:43 a.m.: Hello, rough. Phil Mickelson hit into the rough at No. 4, a shot that mirrored one from Thursday. Not a bad lie, though, and he sends the ball to within 10 feet of the pin. Yeah, it would appear that he can pull par out of his backpocket.

Barry Svrluga reports that, because of the extreme heat last week, the greens are not up to what the USGA had hoped — 14-14.5 on the Stimpmeter, which measures green speeds. With rain Thursday night, the greens could be further softer — and slower — and the greens may never get up to speed. “This rain is going to have something to say with it now,” said Tom O'Toole, the USGA's director of championships.

8:34 a.m.: Three holes, three pars so far. Hence the expression, par for the course. Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson have tap-ins for par at No. 3.

8:16 a.m.: Through two holes today, Rory McIlroy, Thursday’s leader, and Phil Mickelson, who spent a nomadic day at Congressional on Thursday, were even.

7:15 a.m.: From The Post’s Rick Maese:

Coming off a tough opening round, Phil Mickelson arrived at Congressional Country Club early Friday morning, working with his coach Butch Harmon at the driving range in an effort to iron out whatever wrinkles might have contributed to his 3-over 74.

“I don’t normally play four days perfectly. This was my bad round,” he’d said Thursday evening. “Hopefully I’ll get it turned around.”

He was scheduled to tee off at 7:55 a.m. in a group that includes first-round leader Rory McIlroy — who has held or shared the lead at some point in the last four majors — and Dustin Johnson.

Ever the optimist, Mickelson walked off the course Thursday evening nine shots off the lead -- he called his round “horrific” -- yet comfortable with his chances of challenging in the tournament.

“I’m still in it where if I get this thing turned around, I can shoot a good round [Friday] and get back in it,” he said.

 He knows there’s a lot of room for improvement — in just about all aspects of his game — which is why he and Harmon hit the range before 7 a.m. Friday. In the opening round, Mickelson hit only four of 14 fairsways and only eight of 18 greens in regulation. He averaged 1.5 putts per hole.

“A little change here or there though and I’ll come out [Friday] playing a little bit freer, a little bit more aggressive,” said Mickelson, who has five second-place finishes in the U.S. Open and zero wins. ”A lot of times this happens for me when I take a week off before a major. I come out, play tight and swing tentative. I hit it horrific today and somehow got three-over, which I will gladly take.”

The safe guess is he’d probably be happier with a better second-round score, though.

The Cut: Plenty of players shot par or better, but Ian Poulter (75) wasn’t among them. Going into today’s round, 4-over-par was projected to be the cutoff, which is where Ian Poulter found himself at the end of the first day and would explain his tweets:

Morning folks, woke up to alot of you telling what I'm doing wrong so funny to read. Terrible clubbing, over swinging, to negative, ha haless than a minute ago via Twittelator Favorite Retweet Reply

That's much better now i hope I can put everything into play that I've learnt on twitter in the last 10 minutes & go find myself a US Open.less than a minute ago via Twittelator Favorite Retweet Reply

Bada bing: And, because who doesn’t like to start the day with a Port-a-John joke (easy to joke when you fire a first-round 70, like Stewart Cink did):

USOpen setup at Congressional is very tough. Even the Port-a-John's are on the edges of the slopes.less than a minute ago via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

MORE

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Hamilton: Graeme McDowell’s strong start

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A big day: Heavy hitters do well

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U.S. Open Channel: The Post’s videos from Congressional

Fans’ perspective: Your photos from Congressional

By and  |  04:10 PM ET, 06/17/2011

 
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