McIlroy stays at the top

McIlroy stays at the top

Briton leads Korean Yang by six strokes at 11-under-par 131

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman followed up his opening 65 with five birdies and an eagle in a superb 66 early on Friday to reach the halfway stage of the 111th edition of the championship at 11-under-par 131.

His total shaved one stroke off the previous US Open record of 132, set by Ricky Barnes at Bethpage two years ago, and was just one off the lowest halfway score at any major, the 130 set by Nick Faldo at the 1992 British Open at Muirfield.

McIlroy was poised to go even lower but took a double-bogey six at the last after hitting his approach into the water.  Yang Yong-eun of South Korea, the 2009 PGA champion, was a distant second at 137 after shooting 69. Five players were bunched at 140, nine shots back, when play was called due to failing light with 21 players still on the course.

Bouncing back brilliantly after squandering a four-shot lead in the final round of the Masters, McIlroy showed the sublime skills that have him marked as a future number one despite holding only one title apiece on the US and European tours.

McIlroy rolled in a 12-foot putt at the 17th to reach 13-under par, surpassing the tournament record low of 12-under set by Gil Morgan during the 1992 US Open and matched by Tiger Woods when he won the 2000 championship at Pebble Beach.

Earlier he became the fastest to reach double digits under par at a US Open when he holed out from the fairway at the par-four eighth, his 26th hole, for eagle to reach 10-under.  Even playing partner Phil Mickelson clapped in admiration at the shot by mop-topped McIlroy, who landed his approach 18 feet past the hole and watched it trickle down into the cup.  Yang, who opened with a 68, took his score to five-under after birdies at the seventh and ninth, but could not improve on that after a 42-minute delay due to a threat of lightning.

Bunched at two-under 140 were Spain's Sergio Garcia (71) and Americans Matt Kuchar (68), 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson (69), Brandt Snedeker (70) and Robert Garrigus (70).

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, who also opened with 68, shot 74 for level-par 142.

Tied at 141 were South Korean Kim Kyung-tae, whose 72 included six birdies, three bogeys and two double-bogeys, Spain's Alvaro Quiros (71), Americans Davis Love III (71) and Heath Slocum (71), and Briton Robert Rock (71).

Leading scores (after 18 holes, US unless stated): 131: Rory McIlroy (Bri, 65, 66); 137: Yang Yong-eun (Kor, 68, 69); 140: Robert Garrigus (70, 70), Sergio Garcia (Esp, 69, 71), Zach Johnson (71, 69), Brandt Snedeker (70, 70), Matt Kuchar (72, 68); 141: Kim Kyung-tae (Kor, 69, 72), Alvaro Quiros (Esp, 70, 71), Robert Rock (Bri, 70, 71), Heath Slocum (71, 70), Davis Love III (70, 71), Ryan Palmer (69, 72), Brandt Jobe (71, 70).

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