From Brian Keogh in New York
Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy were planning a McAttack in the final round of the weather delayed US Open.
As Ricky Barnes hit a third round 70 to lead by a shot from Lucas Glover (70) on eight under the Irish pair were setting their sights on shooting the lights out.
McDowell hit a one under par 69 that left him eight off the pace on level par with McIlroy 12 behind former US Amateur winner Barnes after 72.
But they only had eyes for the 60s as they prepared to get their final rounds off to a flyer on Sunday night and a Monday finish at punishing Bethpage Black.
Still hoping he could take a run at the leader, McDowell said: “If the leaders come back to five or six under par I have every chance. It is a funny golf course because there are 75s out there but there are also 65s.
“I didn’t like the look of the golf course when I first saw but it has got better as the week has gone on. I have driven the ball well and that has been the key. The rest of my game has been solid and I have been scrambling well.
“I would like to finish top ten here but I am not looking at the figures at all – I am just going to post as low a number as I can in the last round and see where that leaves me.”
McDowell’s best major finish came in the 2005 Open at St Andrews, where was tied 11th.
But with Barnes and Glover set to come under the kosh in the first fourth round Monday finish for 26 years, he was not giving up hope of getting into the mix
He said: “One of my goals at the start of the year was to get into contention on a Sunday afternoon at Major. It looks like it might be Monday morning if I am going to be in contention here but I am continuing to get my head around these things and continuing to play better and better golf in the bigger tournaments and that’s all I can ask of myself.”
A top 15 finish would guarantee him his place at Pebble Beach next year and that was McIlroy’s top priority after a 72 that featured two birdies and four bogeys.
“If it wasn’t for two guys then this would be a great tournament,” McIlroy said with a smile. “Even I would be within seven or eight shots of the lead.
“I have felt like I have played solid this week and it has been tough. It’s hard when you are going into most of the par fours with 190-200 yards. Even though it’s soft, it is playing long because you have such long shots into the green.
“I probably need a 66 to finish in the top ten but some of the guys are coming back a bit so hopefully I can shoot a low last round and move up a bit."
Soft conditions have made scoring red hot with Barnes becoming just the fourth player to get into double digits in US Open history when he eagled the fourth to get to 11 under par.
McIlroy said: “I am used to watching US Opens being firm and fast with guys hacking out and trying to hold greens and stuff. This reminds me of the US Open in 2002 because that was so wet and soggy but it’s been a good week for me so far and hopefully I can finish it off with a good score.
“The atmosphere has been great, especially playing with Anthony which is just as well because I have played three rounds over four days with him! But obviously he is popular because he was a Ryder Cup hero last year and then there are a fair few Irish in New York so the support we have had has been great and helped us along a bit.
“It has been a long hard week but that’s what Majors are supposed to be: they are supposed to be hard; it’s just a shame that’s it’s going into Monday but it has still been a great tournament."
McDowell teed off in the final round at 6.57 pm (11.57 Irish time) with American Sean O'Hair with McIlroy off the 10th with Canadian Nick Taylor at 5.45 (10.45).