American Ryder Cup player Patrick Reed set the early clubhouse target as the third round of the 117th US Open turned into a shootout at a rain-softened Erin Hills.
Almost an inch of rain fell on the course overnight and Reed, who beat Rory McIlroy in the opening singles at Hazeltine last year, was one of many players to take advantage in pursuit of his first major title.
Reed began the day six shots off the lead shared by England’s Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood and the American duo of Brooks Koepka and Brian Harman, the first four-way tie after 36 holes of a US Open since 1974.
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.
Similar scoring had initially appeared a possibility at Erin Hills, which became the longest course in major championship history at 7,845 yards in the first round and featured such thick fescue grass that patches had to be chopped down on four holes on Tuesday.
However, with the overnight rain improving scoring conditions, Reed overcame some testing pin positions to card four birdies and a bogey on the front nine, before firing four birdies in five holes from the 12th.
The 26-year-old needed to birdie the 18th to equal the lowest score in relation to par in US Open history, but missed from five feet.
The resulting 65 set the target at eight under par, with Charley Hoffman leading on nine under after covering the front nine in 31.
Fleetwood was alongside Reed after a birdie on the first, but Casey tumbled down the leaderboard after following an opening birdie of his own with a triple-bogey on the third.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen had looked like being the early pacesetter, the former Open champion going to the turn in 32 and picking up shots on the 11th and 15th, only to run up a double bogey on the 17th.
Oosthuizen, who finished second in the US Open in 2015 and lost a play-off for the Open a month later, had to settle for a 68 to finish four under par.
With the entire field separated by just eight shots after the cut fell at one over, 2015 winner Jordan Spieth had hoped to get himself into contention, but struggled to a 76.
“It’s been an off-week for me with the putting,” said the former world No.1, whose back nine of 40 included a double-bogey seven on the 18th.
“I’ve been striking the ball well. It’s just been trying to figure it out on and around the greens. And I feel like once the can gets open, I’ll start pouring them in.
“I started feeling a couple of rounds at Colonial like that, where I really felt like I was seeing the lines, I was confident going into it. I knew going into it that it was either going to go in or be close to going in.
“And out here I’m just thinking a lot about my stroke, stance, stuff you would rather not be thinking about, you’d rather think about line of pace. But I can’t do that yet because I haven’t figured out the other part.
“It’s frustrating in that regard, but today was an off day.
“Pitchers have good days and bad days, and I took an L [loss] today and come back tomorrow and try to finish this round strong going into next week.”