The Washington Times - June 17, 2011, 08:25PM

Y.E. Yang was paying attention – just as everyone else was – to Rory McIlroy’s round Friday morning as the 22-year-old built on his already strong lead. McIlroy finished 5-under for the day to put him at 11-under for the U.S. Open.

And while Yang didn’t know how big the deficit was when he started his second round, the Korean called it a “daunting task.”


“If it was a stroke or two strokes or three strokes ahead, then maybe it would have added a lot more pressure for me to try and get close to him or at least not lengthen or widen the gap.  But it being such a big gap in the first place, I just didn’t really mind what Rory ended up with,” Yang said through an interpreter. “It actually enabled me to concentrate on my own game, so secretly I’m very happy that I had another under par round.”

Yang shot 2-under Friday and goes into the weekend six strokes back of the front-running McIlroy. He said the number of strokes was “irrelevant,” pointing to a Korea Open in which he erased a 10-stroke deficit to win.

“I know it’s sort of a different kind of level of golf tournament,” Yang said, “but still, there are many amazing things that happen in golf.”

McIlroy’s last lead in a major was at the Masters this year, and it ultimately melted away on Sunday. Yang has not been aggressive on this Congressional Country Club course, and hopes that strategy allows him to chip away at this advantage.

This lead is tied for the biggest after 36-holes, a record shared by Tiger Woods. But Yang said he’s not going to spend Saturday trying to play against McIlroy.

“I’m not trying to chase anyone, I’m just trying to play my game,” he said. “Right now I’m just going to just block everything out, not imagine this is a chase or trying to get away from the third and fourth and other guys; it’s just about me playing another solid round of golf tomorrow.”

If McIlroy keeps this going, Yang could be playing for second place. But as the 39-year-old pointed out, anything’s possible – including his ability to come back in the U.S. Open.