The anticipated charge from Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy has not materialised at the US Open today.
The duo were only four shots off the lead at halfway after matching rounds of 73 and 70 which meant they were paired together for the third day in succession.
Both made the perfect start with birdies at the opening hole, but McIlroy then pushed his tee shot out of bounds on the par-five second and dropped further shots at the third, fifth, sixth and ninth, with a birdie on the eighth seeing him out in 39 and six over for the tournament.
Woods also dropped shots at the third, fifth and sixth and looked destined to come up short in his bid for the 15th major title of his career, and a first since the US Open in 2008.
Padraig Harrington fell to eight over after 15, while Waterford amateur Kevin Phelan had drifted to 15 over thru 10.
Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose meanwhile were in contention to become the first Englishman in 40 years to win the event.
Tony Jacklin was the last to do so back in 1970, with Nick Faldo the last to win any of the four major titles when he triumphed in the 1996 Masters.
But the chances of those winless streaks coming to an end tomorrow were looking good with three of Europe's Ryder Cup team from last year's 'Miracle at Medinah' high on the leaderboard midway through the third round.
Rose had completed a second round of 69 in near-darkness yesterday evening, with playing partner Matt Kuchar hurrying to hit his tee-shot on the 18th hole so their group would have the option to finish the hole when the siren sounded moments later to suspend play.
After finding rough from the tee, Rose was left with a third shot from 109 yards in the gathering gloom, but pitched to five feet and holed the curling par putt.
When the second round was finally completed this morning, Rose was sharing second place with Donald and Steve Stricker on level par, one behind five-time runner-up Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel.
Mickelson and Horschel both bogeyed the third and fifth holes to drop back to one over approaching the turn, while Rose moved into a share of the lead courtesy of a birdie on the fourth.
Tangling with fairway bunkers on the next two holes cost Rose back-to-back bogeys and dropped him back to one over as well, but Donald rolled in a curling birdie putt on the eighth to join former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel in the lead on one under.
Poulter's third round had got off to a slow start with a bogey on the third, but he hit back with birdies on the sixth and eighth to reach the turn in 35 and join the growing group on one over.
Most surprising member of that group was American amateur Michael Kim, the South Korea-born 19-year-old going out in 37 but then picking up birdies on the 10th, 12th and 13th.