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That was Adam Hadwin's Friday at Erin Hills, where a double bogey at the penultimate hole dropped him off the first page of the U.S. Open leaderboard after two very good days.
On that occasion, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Hale Irwin and Ray Floyd shared the halfway lead, with Irwin going on to win the "Massacre at Winged Foot" on seven over par.
While McIlroy and former world number one Jason Day missed the cut, amateur Cameron Champ - who turned 22 on Thursday - and Xander Schauffele were unlikely contenders on five under par, alongside Players Championship victor Si Woo Kim.
As the second-round lead ricocheted among first-round leader Rickie Fowler, ambitious 27-year-old Floridian Brooks Koepka and aged, savvy Paul Casey - he's 39 but not yet decrepit - a crowd formed just behind them.
A rain-softened course was protected by some fearsome pin positions as the third round of the US Open got under way at Erin Hills on Saturday. His round would have been better had it not been for two bogeys in his closing holes.
Just really bad tee shots which led to obviously not being able to give myself many looks for birdies. "I really haven't been hitting the ball well as of late".
Two amateurs, Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ, broke par late in the day while the player ranked 352nd in the world, Xander Schauffele, matched Casey's 66, even though he was one of the last men on the course.
Casey laid up in the rough, took two chops to get out of more rough behind the 14th green, and staggered away with a triple-bogey 8 that might have ruined his day at Erin Hills.
He recovered to drain a 13-foot birdie putt on the par-three 13th, but thereafter was unable to build any momentum over the remainder of the opening nine holes.
Lowry had a poor front nine, which featured four bogeys and a birdie.
Fowler briefly had company at the top of the leaderboard when England's Paul Casey birdied the 11th from close range, but Casey then bogeyed the 12th and ran up a triple-bogey eight on the 14th.
Newly branded as the "ultimate test in golf", the U.S. Open has always been famed for its toughness and Erin Hills was expected to add to that hard-man reputation.
Paul Casey showed the course was nearly as easy late in the day as it was when Rickie Fowler stormed to a seven under par 65 as one of the early starters.
McIlroy, who had stumbled through a lacklustre opening round on Thursday, again found the going tough after teeing off on the 10th hole.
"I know people get caught up with this even par thing", USGA executive director Mike Davis said this week.
Three more birdies on his inward nine took him to seven under and a piece of US Open history. "I think I have a little bit of an advantage", he added. "We train just about every day together, and talk about the mentality of winning".
Fowler won the Honda Classic in March, and the 2015 PLAYERS Championship.
"You have to be more on when it gets like that because if not, then you're going to struggle".