For so much discussion of the idiosyncrasies and difficulty of Pinehurst No. 2, they don't seem to be having much affect on Martin Kaymer. The 29-year-old has played a spectacular style of golf through two rounds, carding 65 twice, to post the best total score through 36 holes in the history of the U.S. Open (besting that masterpiece by Rory McIlroy at Congressional by a shot).
The rest of the field ... well, they're not doing so hot. Kaymer's next closest competitor is Brendon Todd, who is six shots behind after shooting a 67 on Friday, an otherwise great score at a U.S. Open. The six shot margin matches McIlroy in 2011 and Tiger Woods in 2000 for the largest ever at the midpoint of the national championship. Difficult greens and natural waste areas are proving to be more formidable opponents Kaymer's competitors. The field's struggles makes Kaymer's dominance all the more impressive.
Martin Kaymer runs away from the field
The lowest 36-hole score ever at the U.S. Open, a tidy 130 through two rounds, has Martin Kaymer out in front by a record-matching margin at Pinehurst.
Saturday is the field's chance to get back in it -- with the course still a bit receptive and perhaps open to another low mid-60s score. They harder it gets, the better for Kaymer, as that charge from behind simply becomes unavailable. Kaymer's individual brilliance in a unique setting ought to be universally appreciated, even if the sport's biggest name, Tiger Woods, is sitting out. TV broadcast partner, NBC, however, would probably appreciate one or two guys making this interesting before Sunday rolls around.
As Brendan Porath pointed out a few days ago, this year's U.S. Open is also the last the time fans will be able to watch tournament coverage on NBC for at least 12 years. The USGA has signed an estimated $1.2 billion contract with FOX, leaving its long-time partners on the curb. Depending on your feelings towards Chris Berman and Johnny Miller (and Joe Buck and Greg Norman on FOX's end) this is or isn't a good thing.
Porath's tribute to the laughable/lovable Miller is well-worth reading. There's something to be said for the chemistry that builds over the course of doing something for a long time.
Moaning about the buffoonery of Chris Berman on Thursday and Friday, and the curmudgeonly Johnny Miller all four days has become one of the great pastimes of America's national championship. But next year we'll move on to the great unknowns of Joe Buck and Greg Norman calling golf on a network that has never done a broadcast of the sport.
With a new broadcast partner comes a depleted reservoir of nostalgia that will need to be built back up. In the mean time, fans may as well revel in what they have. Word is that NBC has a special final sign-off set for Sunday.
Kaymer, the course, and the end of an era in broadcasting, this year's U.S. Open may be the most subtly compelling sporting event of the weekend, though the World Cup and Sunday's NBA Finals game will certainly dominate attention spans. Viewing information for the U.S. Open is below. Tune in and you won't be disappointed.
Saturday's third round coverage
Noon to 7:30 p.m. -- NBC
Noon to 7:30 p.m. -- NBC Sports LiveExtra simulcast
Noon to conclusion -- USOpen.com featured holes (Nos. 9, 18)
2 p.m. to 8 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)
2 p.m. to 8 p.m. -- ESPN Radio