Ernie Els (Getty Images)
Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington were making a late charge at the US Open Championship after the American contingent dominated much of the final round.
With Jim Furyk holding firm on level par, most of the field gradually dropped back - including European Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell.
But three-time Major winner Harrington reeled off three birdies in a row from the seventh, chipped in brilliantly at the 13th and picked up another shot with a tremendous up-and-down from the bunker at the penultimate hole.
At two over for the tournament he was two behind Furyk, who had eight to play, with Webb Simpson second on one over.
Els was also on plus two - the two-time winner from South Africa eagling the seventh after a three wood to 12 feet at the driveable par four then birdieing the 12th from eight feet.
McDowell turned in a four over 38 but at three over wasn’t entirely out of it.
Westwood’s challenge unravelled in unfortunate circumstances at the fifth. The World Number Three’s tee shot got stuck in a tree, but even with binoculars he couldn’t see it so returned to the tee and ended up with a double bogey six
Harrington’s hopes ended when he missed the final green, plugged in the sand and bogeyed for a 68. It was still a brilliant round, but at three over he was one off the clubhouse pace - set by first-round leader Michael Thompson.
Furyk and Webb Simpson were tied for the lead on one over, but Els made a hash of the 16th and dropped to three over.
McDowell threatened a revival with birdies at the 11th and 12th but bogeyed the next two.