Rory McIlroy laid claim to the best score in the first round of the 2014 British Open and he nearly did the same thing in the second round on Friday.
That's a good way to get your third major championship of the year started.
McIlroy backed up his Thursday 66 with another one on Friday which was one off the daily pace set by Dustin Johnson who dropped his own 65 late in the afternoon.
The Ulsterman did it with seven birdies and a bogey which gives him 13 birdies and one bogey for the tournament -- a ridiculous 12 under thru 36 holes and a four-shot lead over Johnson.
In 2006 Tiger Woods was also 12 under after 36 holes.
McIlroy's day got started sideways with a bogey at No. 1 which conjured up thoughts of his awful Friday record on tour this year but he stuffed those away quickly (along with most of his iron shots) and precisely with birdies at Nos. 5, 6, and 8.
"Bogey at one from 80 yards so I was thinking 'that's not the best way to start' but I knew the par 5s are where you can make a score on this course," McIlroy told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi.
The par 5s were absolutely clinical, too. And his 66 was as easy-looking on Friday as it was on Thursday. Maybe even easier.
Here's his card:
One reason McIlroy is playing so well is that he's absolutely murdering his tee shots. He's averaging 333 yards off the tee and setting up wedges into par 4s and short irons into par 5s.
Rickie Fowler after a 69, on Rory McIlroy: "When his driver is on, he's almost unstoppable."— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) July 18, 2014
McIlroy knows where his bread is buttered.
"Stick to my gameplan," he said to ESPN. "Just stick to your process, what you've been doing well."
"I've been in this position before and thankfully I've been able to get the job done," said McIlroy.
There's more at stake for McIlroy than the Claret Jug, too. He's trying to become the third golfer ever to win three legs of the grand slam by the age of 25 since the inception of the Masters in 1934.
The other two? Maybe you've heard of them: Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.
He's also trying to become just the 16th golfer ever to win at least three of the four grand slams.
The best part of all of this?
McIlroy can't coast like Martin Kaymer did at Pinehurst.
Guys like Johnson, Fowler, Sergio, Schwartzel, etc all have huge "go low" potential. Don't think he can afford to sit back.— Adam Sarson (@Adam_Sarson) July 18, 2014
He'll have to go lower and lower on the weekend and, weather aside, he could have a chance at Woods' score of 270 on this course back in 2006.
"You're battling yourself...you don't want to get ahead of yourself,". You don't want to look at what anyone else is doing. That's the big challenge for me.
There's nobody in golf better than Rory when he's feeling his shots and he's feeling it all right now at the Open.
All that adds up to what should be a a dramatic and possibly historic weekend at Hoylake.