PINEHURST, N.C. -- There are 36 holes remaining in the U.S. Open. At least that's what the rest of the U.S. Open field is telling itself.
But the truth is, this major has become Martin Kaymer's to lose. So far, he has made history (a 36-hole Open record of 130) and made everyone else rub their eyes in disbelief. If he keeps this up -- impossible, right? -- even Pinehurst's iconic Putter Boy will give Kaymer a standing O.
Kaymer's back-to-back 65s put him at 10-under going into the weekend, 6 shots ahead of Brendon Todd. Kaymer is so far ahead of the field that he ought to have his own leaderboard. He's on the autobahn; the others are driving scooters in the far-right lane.
"I don't know what to say," the 29-year-old Kaymer said. "It's just very, very solid. It gets boring the words that I use, but, I mean, there's not much to say. It's just good right now the way I play golf."
So far. he's made 11 birdies and just one bogey. His only mistake Friday was to wear all black on a day when your sweat sweated.
"He's as dialed in as I've seen," said Keegan Bradley, who played in Kaymer's group Thursday and Friday.
"I didn't see 10-under out there," said Brendon de Jonge, who was thrilled to be at 2-under. "That's incredible."
Nobody, including Kaymer, expected 10-under, 5-under or anything-under to be leading this tournament after 36 holes ... or 72 holes. Earlier in the week, Kaymer predicted 8-over would be the winning score.
"I wouldn't take it anymore, obviously," he said.
Kaymer would have to shoot matching 79s over the weekend to finish at 8-over. It isn't going to happen. I'm not saying he's clinched the tournament -- he hasn't -- but he's not going to do a Jean van de Velde or Greg Norman and require a vomit bag.
"I look at the scoreboards; it's enjoyable," Kaymer said. "... But by the end of the day, maybe I lead only by two or three, or maybe we're tied or something. I don't know, but it's quite nice to play golf that way."
Yes, quite nice. Lovely. Splendid.
Kaymer sounds as if his heart rate can't be detected by modern medical technology. He speaks in a soft monotone. He's thoughtful and sneakily funny.
"He's very normal, a nice guy who likes the normal things in life and doesn't need all the extravaganza," said Frieder Pfeiffer, a golf writer for the respected German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. "He's always gentle, some say boring. But I think that is a mask that he also wears when he's on the course. ... If he likes you, he's very special, patient and warm. Not in any case a machine."
Your 36-hole leader, Pfeiffer said in his email response, is crazy about soccer and barbecuing with friends. And Germany is crazy about him -- up to a point.
"He's called 'The German Golf Star,' which is good," Pfeiffer said. "But you always need the 'golf' in the description, so all people know."
Kaymer won the 2010 PGA Championship (he beat Bubba Watson in a sudden-death playoff) for his first major championship. And by his math, he won his second major last month, at the Players Championship.
Now he's in perfect position to win a U.S. Open, which would likely be bigger news over here than over there. Right now, Germany has the World Cup, not Kaymer, on its national mind.
"Well, I'm actually glad that Germany starts on Monday," Kaymer said. "That's the first game, so maybe I get a little bit of some -- how do you say it? -- like, some things in the newspapers about me. ... I think golf, it's not important, but not much I can do."
He could win the United States Open. How about that? How would that go over in Deutschland?
"If I win?" Kaymer said. "It will last probably until Monday, 12 o'clock, and then that's it."
Noon Monday -- when Germany-Portugal begins.
That's about it for Kaymer looking ahead. The former No. 1-ranked player in the world said he doesn't have a Saturday score in mind "because you try to reach them, instead of going out there and being equal, being neutral, just play."
Kaymer will just play. He won't worry about history, about the leaderboard, about Germany's reaction.
"I just wait for what the afternoon will do," he said.
So do we. And so does everybody who's chasing him.