Given the difficulty of a course like Shinnecock Hills, a well-rounded player like Johnson has a better chance than most to compete.
"The putt, I started on the line I wanted to", he said of missing the chance to become the first player to shoot 62 at a U.S. Open.
"When something like (Saturday) happens, all of a sudden you're coming into today, you knew that they were going to water the heck out of the greens, that they're going to be soft", Reed said.
Woods was off to a awful start as he shot a triple-bogey on the initial hole before firing back-to-back doubles on the back nine to finish 8-over-78 in the opening round.
The scoring average Saturday was 75.3, lower than Round 1 here and no doubt aided by the more receptive conditions in the morning.
Mickelson, who has been a U.S. Open runner-up six times, most recently in 2013, was having a miserable time Saturday before reaching 13. And the greens got fast. Those were, supposedly, the best golfers in the field through two rounds.
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Tomorrow's final round now shapes as a test as much of the USGA's public image as the 22 golfers within five shots of the lead.
"I don't want to say I didn't think I could do it", Koepka said. It's as good as it gets.
"I'm not sure I could possibly comment without using words which shouldn't be seen. just like some of those pins", Poulter tweeted. Approach shots into the firm greens rolled off the shaved banks.
Andy Kwon of New York City and Southampton attended on Sunday with his three children, Nathan, 7, Hazel, 6, and 18-month-old James.
Berger and Finau shot third-round 66s.
As Thomas Boswell noted in the Washington Post, "This USGA setup couldn't identify the difference between Tommy Fleetwood, 12th in the world, and Fleetwood Mac (one of his favourite bands)".
Overnight leader Johnson was less concerned about the pin positions though felt there was inconsistency in the speed of the greens.
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In reply, Australia were bundled out for 239 with spinner Adil Rashid taking 4 wickets in his spell of 10 overs. Hales brought up the record with a massive six off Jhye Richardson to the delight of a sell-out crowd.
He then continued his tirade asking if "Bozo set up the course" when the tee times for Sunday's final day were announced.
He finished the day, his 48th birthday, with an 81, 11-over par. "It's just hard. It's brutal".
Contending with some unfavourable winds also, Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are among the high-profile players who failed to make the cut after each shooting rounds of eight-over, or worse. Reed started the day with five birdies in the first seven holes, claiming a share of the lead.
Scott Piercy, playing in the final group, carded a birdie-less 79. When the set up team walked off the course this morning I will tell you we felt really good about where the golf course was and frankly we just missed it with the wind. Early groups enjoyed gentler winds and wetter greens; by the time Johnson teed off at 3:10 p.m., he found a surface that played more like glass than grass.
The USGA tucked several hole locations near the edges of the crowned greens at Shinnecock Hills, and then watched some extraordinary scenes unfold as several players putted their balls off the 15th green. He knew before he struck the putt that unless the hole got in the way there was no way of stopping the ball - and so it proved.
"If they'd have shot 4 under this afternoon, it would probably have been the best round of golf anybody's ever seen", Koepka said.
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But it is clear that belief, and pride, is now growing. "If not, they will have to go against Uruguay in the searching of point". Not long after that he won a penalty following another burst forward, which proved too much for Roman Zobnin to handle.