Most of moving day at the U.S. Open was more like shuffling day, with players edging up or down a couple strokes over their Friday scores. But then, after sundown on the East Coast, the top of the leaderboard suddenly bunched up tight, setting up a Sunday that will feature both star power and chances of a lifetime.
Louis Oosthuizen, who's spent much of his career being in contention in majors but never closing since winning the 2010 Open Championship, hammered his way into a tie for the lead at -5 with an eagle on Torrey Pines' 18th hole. It was reminiscent of a similar eagle Tiger Woods carded on Saturday in 2008; he would go on to (eventually, dramatically) win that tournament.
"For some reason I just play good when the majors come around," Oosthuizen said. "I think it's just because tough golf courses I sometimes just focus a little better and play better golf."
Even with Oosthuizen stands the biggest shock of the leaderboard: Canadian MacKenzie Hughes, who'd missed five straight cuts recently, who'd missed the cut in six of the eight majors he'd played prior to Torrey, powered his way into the picture. A highlight: Hughes' 63-foot eagle putt on No. 13. Five holes later, he and Oosthuizen shared the lead.
"I'm excited," Hughes said. "You get goosebumps thinking about it, so I know I'm going to be nervous [Sunday]."
Also at -5: Russell Henley, who had control of the tournament for much of the day but wobbled late, needing a long eight-foot par putt to stay even with Oosthuizen and Hughes at -5. That's three players with a grand total of one major between them.
Ten years to the day after he won the U.S. Open at Congressional, Rory McIlroy charged back into contention with a four-under round to get to -3, matching Paul Casey for the day's lowest. McIlroy hasn't won a major since 2014, and although he's posted strong finishes over the succeeding years, he's a master of the backdoor top 10, playing well on Sundays long after he'd shot himself out of contention. He'll enter Sunday with his best chance to win a major since the 2018 Masters, when he teed off in the final group alongside eventual winner Patrick Reed.
"I thought like two 68s over the weekend from where I was after Friday was going to have a good chance," McIlroy said. "I've done the first part of that job. Now it's up to me [Sunday] to go out and try to play a similar round of golf."
One fun McIlroy note: he'd eaten the same exact room service chicken sandwich five nights in a row, and expected to eat the same thing Saturday night. The sandwich, for the record: rotisserie chicken, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic aioli on whole wheat bread.
Also at -3: Bryson DeChambeau, who stormed his way around Torrey Pines just blasting the skin off the ball. Despite the chants of "Brooksy!" and worse, DeChambeau kept his head while carving out a three-under day. For the first time in his career, DeChambeau played an entire round at a major without a single bogey. He had at least three tap-in putts that totaled about two feet in length.
"You've got to be really patient out here at these majors," DeChambeau said. "It's something that is not easy to do. My first few goes at majors, I was not successful or anywhere near successful, and I feel like I'm starting to understand major championship golf and how to play it and how to go about managing my game, my attitude and just my patience level."
Several notable names struggled, none more so than Friday night leader Richard Bland. His brand of routine shoot-and-stride plodding around the course didn't pay off against a U.S. Open setup, and he was unable to card a single birdie en route to a +6 finish that sent him tumbling down the leaderboard.
Pre-tournament favorite Jon Rahm suffered a crucial double bogey on 14 but recovered with a birdie on 18 in a +1 round that left him three strokes off the lead. And Brooks Koepka, despite the obvious affection from fans in the DeChambeau debate, couldn't ever get ahead, carding three birdies and three bogeys to stay at even for the day and even for the tournament overall.
Coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET, and the tournament will end in primetime on Father's Day.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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