Winged Foot kicked back hard on day two of the US Open as Rory McIlroy struggled, Shane Lowry survived the cut and Patrick Reed ground out a narrow halfway lead in pursuit of his second major title.
After an opening day in which 21 players broke par, just three defied breezy conditions to do so on Friday as Tiger Woods missed the cut on 10 over par following a 77, while McIlroy recorded a 76.
Former Masters champion Reed added a 70 to his opening 66 to finish four under par and a shot ahead of fellow American Bryson DeChambeau, whose 68 was the lowest score of the day.
Overnight leader Justin Thomas recovered from five over par after 10 holes to shoot 73 and finish two under alongside Harris English and Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Jason Kokrak was the only other player in red figures on one under.
Lowry opened with a 76 in Mamaroneck on Thursday, but upped his game today with a 70, which featured critical birdies on the 16th and final hole of his round to finish on six over.
"I feel good," Reed said after a round containing five birdies and five bogeys. "I feel ready to go out and put myself in position hopefully to have a chance late on Sunday.
"I feel like the game is where it needs to be. I just need to tighten a few things up here or there, but the short game is sharp, and when I play around a place like this, that's what you need."
DeChambeau’s much-hyped physical transformation had earlier paid dividends as a 380-yard drive on the 557-yard par-five ninth – his final hole – was followed by a pitching wedge from 178 yards to set up an eagle from six feet.
"I want it to play as hard as possible," DeChambeau said. "I feel like there’s so many holes out here that I can take advantage of that some people can’t.
"Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to win or anything. You’ve still got to execute, you’ve still got to hit the driver straight. If I’m hitting the driver far but all over the place, you can’t make birdies from the rough.
"So I still have to work on hitting it straight while hitting it far. And that’s a unique combo that I’m going to strive for for the rest of my life."
Cabrera Bello birdied three of his last four holes for a second round of 70 and admitted he was relishing the challenge of a tough US Open course.
"It’s a tournament I do like," the former Ryder Cup player said. "I tend to be a grinder, as well. I never give up. I keep fighting.
"Definitely it’s a major that tests your patience beyond limits and your mental strength as well, to accept the fact that you’re going to hit some great shots and going to end up making bogeys, and you just have to accept that sometimes two or three bogeys in a row is not as bad as it looks.
"I’m managing well this week. I played really good golf yesterday. I putted beautifully today, so I’m very happy with my performance so far."
McIlroy had been just a shot off the lead after a birdie on the first, but played the next six holes in six over par and eventually finished three over for the championship alongside Lee Westwood, who also returned a 76.
Belgium’s Thomas Pieters had held the outright lead on six under after two birdies in his first five holes, only to cover the back nine in 41 to return a 74 and finish level par.