"When I hit my driver like I did today, this is an easy sport," Holmes said.
It sure didn't feel easy to anyone else.
Sergio Garcia four-putted the 17th green late in the second round just as he was trying to catch Holmes, and instead dropped to a 73 and was three shots behind. Phil Mickelson struggled with a few bad drives, a few poor chips and not many putts, making three bogeys over the final five holes for a 73 that left him four shots behind.
Colin Montgomerie found nothing easy about Oakland Hills. He had to play his best golf over the closing holes to avoid his worst score as a professional, salvaging an 84 to match his worst score ever in a major.
Ben Curtis, who on Thursday said only one player would like Oakland Hills by the end of the week, got along just fine Friday with a 67, matching Justin Rose with the best score of the tournament and leaving both of them one shot behind at even-par 140.
"It's the kind of round I've been looking for to get myself back on the leaderboard and feeling the good vibes," Rose said.
They were joined by Charlie Wi, a 36-year-old who has played on just about every tour, but never in a major championship until this week. He made his debut with back-to-back 70s and will play in the final group Saturday with Holmes.
Former PGA champion David Toms (69) and Henrik Stenson of Sweden (70) were at 1-over 141. The group at 142 included Garcia, former U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera (72) and Sean O'Hair, who steadied himself after a double bogey on his opening hole and shot 73.
For the second straight day, only six players broke par.
"When I got here on Tuesday, I called home and I said, 'This is the hardest golf course I've ever played,'" Wi said. "If I were to play here every day, I don't know if I would enjoy it. It's a very difficult golf course."
Wi might see a different course while playing with Holmes.
The 26-year-old from Kentucky put his Paul Bunyan length on display during a morning of blue skies. It's a wonder some of his tee shots didn't leave contrails.
He leads the field in driving distance at 338 yards, and that doesn't include a mammoth tee shot on the 501-yard 14th that left him only a wedge to the green, where he made a 25-foot putt for his third straight birdie.
Holmes reached the 529-yard second hole with a wedge for a two-putt birdie from 12 feet, and he got home in two on the 593-yard 12th with an 8-iron. A stiff breeze was at his back on that 217-yard shot.
He hit driver on all but four holes.
"I'm not that aggressive if I'm not hitting my driver good," Holmes said. "If I'm hitting bad shots with it, you don't hit it as much. You hit it right where you've looked? Whale away.
"If you're hitting where you're aiming it every time, you're hitting good."
There were some comparisons to another young player from the South who hit it a country mile and overwhelmed Crooked Stick in 1991 to win the PGA Championship. But that's about the only resemblance to John Daly.