x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

McIlroy is a class apart, admits Snedeker

The 22 year old reaches halfway at the US Open on the 11-under-par mark of 131 and with a remarkable eight-stroke lead.

Rory McIlroy reacts to his eagle on the eighth hole during the second round of the US Open.
Rory McIlroy reacts to his eagle on the eighth hole during the second round of the US Open.

One of the players chasing Rory McIlroy in the US Open has made a frank admission: "He has more talent in his pinkie than I have in my whole body".

McIlroy claimed his performance in the second round of the US Open was near to the best he has ever played.

The 22-year-old achieved the lowest 36-hole total in US Open history yesterday – despite taking a double-bogey six at the final hole of his second round.

McIlroy’s performance came only two months after he went from four ahead to 10 behind with a terrible closing 80 at the Masters.

His 66, coupled with Thursday’s 65, took him to 11-under par at the Congressional in Maryland.

American Brandt Snedeker, on the leader board at two under par and yet nine adrift of the 22-year-old Ulsterman, said: "As a competitor I'd love to see myself win.

"As a fan of golf I'd love to see him win. I think anybody who makes people want to tune in and watch is a great ambassador and Rory McIlroy makes people want to do that.

"He's a great kid, got a great head on his shoulders, which is very hard to do with his lifestyle.

"You couldn't ask for a better kid to be out there representing the game of golf.

"I hope he keeps doing what he's been doing and keeps playing great because it makes us all want to beat him.

"If he keeps playing the way he's playing we're all playing for second place.

"You're trying to shoot the lowest number you can. I personally won't look at the leaderboard all weekend because there's no point.

"If I had played my best golf I could be at seven or eight under max. He would have beat me by four and I'm sure he left some out there.

"He's that kind of talent – everybody knows it. It's great to see him do that, especially on the heels of The Masters."

Lee Westwood is not sure he can catch McIlroy from 12 behind with two rounds to go in the US Open, but he is certainly not going to help his stablemate yet.

After improving from four over to one over with a 68 yesterday, England's world No 2 was asked what he might say to help McIlroy.

"I'm supposed to beat him over the next two days," said Westwood. "I'm hardly going to give him advice, am I?"

The size of the task, though, can be measured by how Westwood plans to approach the closing 36 holes.

"I'm more looking at YE Yang now (the Korean is second six shots back), trying to catch him. If I'm going to win the tournament then I need Rory to play poorly.

"I might play great and shoot 11 under par and get to 10 (under), but if he shoots level then he wins.

"But when you've got a six-shot lead – I know because I've had a few – everybody gives you the tournament almost."

World No 1 Luke Donald is three shots further back from Westwood and even had to wait until Saturday morning for confirmation that he had made the cut on four over after two rain stoppages on the second day.

"Rory is very impressive," he said after his 72. "It's nice to see a player in total control – it doesn't happen too often."

Defending champion Graeme McDowell, also McIlroy's fellow Northern Irishman and Ryder Cup partner, is now 13 behind after a closing bogey six for 74.

"When you see what Rory is doing it's tough not to go out there and want to attack and then you get frustrated," he commented.

"Although he is 22 he's a very experienced young man and his experience at Augusta will stand him in good stead here.

"He probably won't get a better US Open lay-out to suits him than this. He's probably one of the best drivers I've ever seen and I wish him all the best.

"We nicknamed him the BMW because he is the 'ultimate driving machine'. He's decimated this course and this is no easy test – it's an amazing display."

* Press Association

Leader board after second round

1 R McIlroy -11

2 YE Yang -5

T3 R Garrigus - 2

T3 S Gargia -2

T3 Z Johnson -2

T3 B Snedeker -2

T3 M Kuchar -2