Ireland’s Shane Lowry took a four-shot lead into the final round of the US Open after finishing his delayed third round in brilliant fashion.
Lowry had four holes remaining when play resumed at 7am local time and played them in two under par to complete a superb 65, equalling the lowest round of the week.
The 29-year-old also equalled the seven-under-par 54-hole scoring record at Oakmont set by eventual winner Ernie Els in 1994, with Americans Dustin Johnson and Andrew Landry his nearest challengers on three under.
Lee Westwood, pictured, and Daniel Summerhays were a shot further back, with South Africa’s Branden Grace the only other player under par after completing a 66 on Saturday evening.
Lowry, who called a penalty on himself during the second round when his ball moved as he addressed a birdie putt on the 16th, holed from nine feet for birdie on the 15th and five feet for another on the 17th after a superb pitch from heavy rough.
The world No 41 – coincidentally the same ranking as Angel Cabrera when the Argentine won at Oakmont in 2007 – was in danger of dropping a shot on the 18th when he left a long birdie attempt ten feet short, but calmly holed for par before punching the air in delight.
“To be honest, I would have taken four pars and gone home for a little rest,” said Lowry, who won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron last year, 115 miles from Oakmont.
The 29-year-old from Offaly added: “I hit a big drive down 15 and only had a nine iron in there, hit it pretty close and made that, hit a lovely pitch on 17 and a really good save on the last.
“It was a really good morning’s work and that was one of the best rounds of my career, a 65 on this course. I just need to try to stay in the moment, stay patient and see what happens.
“I’ve not had many good results this season but feel like I have been playing some of the best golf of my career and hopefully I can keep going and you never know what can happen.”
Danny Willett admitted frustration got the better of him after smashing the putter he used to win the Masters.
A closing 71 left the 28-year-old on nine over par alongside Argentina’s Cabrera, who was five over par in his 2007 Oakmont win.
“Unfortunately it’s now in two pieces,” said Willett, whose patience ran out in the closing stages of Saturday’s third round of 73.
“We’ll have to get it refurbed and then I won’t be using it again.
“The putter has been bad all week, just a bad week really on the greens. They’re tricky to read, tricky to keep the pace and line the same.
“Luckily enough I did [have a spare putter] this week. I’ve been doing a little bit of work at home and it’s not quite been spot on. Paul Hurrion [putting coach] was out this week trying to get a bit of work done.
“It was a week that could have been pretty good. I think we had 33, 35, and 33 putts the first three days. It’s not really going to put you anywhere near contention with that amount of putts on this golf course.”
Edinburgh-based Westwood parred his final three holes on Sunday morning to complete a 69.
Russell Knox, the sole Scot in the season’s second major, carded a 73 in his third round to sit on four-over heading into the final circuit.