World No.1 Jason Day surged into contention and is stalking a nervous bunch of non-major winners, but he’ll still need something special to chase down runaway leader Shane Lowry after the third round was completed at the US Open.
Day produced an impressive four-under-66 in the third round, rallying from 45th into a tie for ninth at one over par at Oakmont Country Club.
All eight of the players above him have yet to claim a major championship, ensuring his presence will increase the nerves as they hunt the biggest win of their lives.
But Lowry set up a huge cushion at the top with a sublime 65, leaving the Irishman at seven under, four clear of Americans Dustin Johnson (71) and Andrew Landry (70) at the top.
“That’s one of the best rounds of my career,” Lowry said.
“I just have to stay in the moment and stay patient.”
Day remains quietly confident given the history of those above him.
Lowry has never finished higher than ninth in majors, although he did win a World Golf Championship event last year.
Landry, the world No.624 remains the biggest surprise packet.
The little-known Texan, on major debut, sits tied second at three under.
Johnson has 11 top-10s in majors, famously bombing on several occasions, including last year’s US Open at which he had a 4m putt to win, only to three-putt and miss a playoff.
England's Lee Westwood is tied fourth with American Daniel Summerhays at two under.
Westwood has 11 top-five finishes in majors, nine of which are top-threes, without ever claiming a win.
Branden Grace is one under in sixth and Sergio Garcia and Scott Piercy sit at even par.
Garcia is in his 72nd major and holds 20 top 10 finishes and is four times a runner-up.
Day hasn’t given up on a second career-defining trophy.
"It depends how they look at it," a diplomatic Day said of the potential nerves.
"It's good to have a major under my belt, but I'm just trying to win the tournament. That's all I want to do is try to win the tournament.
"I think I've given myself an opportunity getting there."
Day is seeking to become the first player to win a major with an opening round 76 or higher since Jack Fleck won the 1955 US Open.
Having trailed by 10 after round one, a win would mark the largest comeback over the final 54 holes in US Open history.
Former world No.1 Adam Scott is the other Australian hope as the 2013 Masters champion sits just a shot further back at two over after he parred his final hole on resumption today for a 72.
Cameron Smith offset five third-round birdies with the same number of bogeys to sit six over, while Marc Leishman remarkably couldn’t make one birdie in a round of 77 that left him seven over.