Oakmont was at its challenging best as Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson missed the cut, and Shane Lowry earned a two-stroke lead through 13 holes of his third round.
After last year's heartbreaking collapse to finish second at Chambers Bay, Dustin Johnson dropped back to two under, three shots behind the Irish leader in his pursuit of a maiden major title.
Johnson had held the 36-hole lead in Pennsylvania before birdies became a rare commodity, while world number one Jason Day stormed into contention.
Johnson, former world number one Lee Westwood and talented Spaniard Sergio Garcia are also searching for their breakthrough victory at a major tournament.
Best players to never win a major?-- PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 18, 2016
They are looking to change that at Oakmont.https://t.co/NNlXXXZ45t
Yusaku Miyazato may be three over the card but the Japanese player provided an eagle and a celebrate to match.
Frenchman Gregory Bourdy left Graeme McDowell a little confused.
Anyone know why Gregory Bourdy had his putter in his hand to pick out his ball on 11? Hole out eagle and still grabbed the putter! ?-- Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) June 18, 2016
Fans will be returning to Oakmont for the U.S. Open in nine years.
There were some big-name casualties at Oakmont on Saturday.
Among those missing cut: Mickelson, McIlroy, Fowler, Rose, Donald, Reed, Bradley, Els, Snedeker, Matsuyama, Walker, Goosen, Finau.-- Ron Sirak (@ronsirak) June 18, 2016
Two rounds in one day for defending champion Jordan Spieth, who is four over the card through 54 holes.
Day and Spieth wasted little time attempting to erase their deficit.
Jason Day and Jordan Spieth have each played four holes in Round 3.-- PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 18, 2016
Both have made three
Lowry is the man to beat following his charge up the leaderboard.