By Mark Lamport-Stokes
PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Keegan Bradley had the best seat in the house to watch Martin Kaymer take the U.S. Open by the scruff of its neck on Friday, and he described the German as being "as dialed in as I've seen."
American Bradley, who was grouped with Kaymer for the first two rounds at Pinehurst, looked on in awe as his playing partner fired successive scores of five-under-par 65 on a challenging layout to post a record low total in the year's second major.
"He's playing so good, it's fun to watch," former major winner Bradley told reporters after carding a one-under 69 to join five other players in an early share of second place, a staggering eight shots behind Kaymer.
"I played well as well, but it was fun watching him hit every fairway, every green and make every putt, it was pretty awesome. He's dialed in. He's as dialed in as I've seen."
Kaymer, who clinched his first major title in a playoff for the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, hit 12 of 14 fairways and reached 15 of 18 greens in regulation during the second round on a layout where danger lurks on every hole.
The German's 10-under aggregate of 130 eclipsed the tournament's previous record low after 36 holes, a total of 131 set by Rory McIlroy in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
"He's just hitting the ball in the fairway on every hole and that's how you score," said Bradley, who won his only major crown as a PGA Tour rookie at the 2011 PGA Championship where he edged out fellow American Jason Dufner in a playoff.
"If you hit the ball in the fairway, you can attack a lot of these pins and these greens. When you get off the fairway into the waste area, that's when it can get dicey.
"He's just very steady. He doesn't seem to get too up and too down. That's a pretty good combination for the U.S. Open."
Asked whether Kaymer's huge 36-hole lead would change his own strategy heading into the weekend, Bradley replied: "No, it doesn't because the course is too hard. You just got to stick with the game plan.
"There's no place to force anything. It's just similar to Augusta (National) in that there's a (possible) double (bogey) on every hole if you're not careful, so stick to the game plan.
"We've got to see what happens tomorrow, but the back nine on Sunday is where it all kind of happens. Steady golf out here is going to be tough. You need to go out there tomorrow, make a bunch of pars and you never know what's going to happen."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)