By Andrew Both
PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Brendon Todd is one of the hottest players on the planet, even if he is not exactly a household name.
But Todd's star power will take off if he keeps playing like he has been recently, and holding second place after two rounds at the U.S. Open will make more than a few people take notice.
"I'm playing in my first major in a place that I hold close to my heart here in Pinehurst," Todd told reporters on Friday.
He spent most of his teenage years living in nearby Cary, one of the most highly-educated cities in the United States with more advanced degrees per capita than almost anywhere else in the country.
Todd, it seems, got a pretty good golfing education and is familiar with Pinehurst No. 2 and comfortable playing in the area.
The 28-year-old secured his first PGA Tour victory when he won the Byron Nelson Championship in Texas last month.
He has proved himself to be anything but a flash in the pan, following up with a tie for fifth and a tie for eighth in his two subsequent starts.
Nevertheless, Todd will obviously be under the spotlight like never before when he is paired with leader Martin Kaymer in the third round of the year's second major on Saturday.
Todd has a particularly good short game, which he will no doubt need around the crowned greens at Pinehurst as the course dries out.
The final two rounds may signal the elevation of a new star in the game, or perhaps he will turn out to the latest player to climb onto the leaderboard in a major, only to wilt under the spotlight and disappear as quickly as they appeared.
"This is a major, a little bigger stage. But now that I have played so well over the last month, I'm a little more comfortable now than I was before," said Todd, who trails by six strokes.
"It's going to feel pretty similar and if I can just go out there and remain calm, I think I'm going to play really well."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)