Shane Lowry is Europe's best chance of a fifth US Open victory in the last six years after benefiting from a positive attitude at Chambers Bay.
The course and conditions have come in for a large amount of criticism, with Masters champion Jordan Spieth calling the 18th ''unbelievably stupid'' when played as a par four and Henrik Stenson comparing the greens to ''putting on broccoli."
USGA executive director Mike Davis said players would need 10 practice rounds to get to grips with the course, which only opened in 2007 - but 36 holes of practice were enough for Lowry to finish his third round on one under par, three off the lead shared by Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Branden Grace.
"I said to my caddie coming up the last, it's probably one of the most enjoyable days I've had at a golf course in a while," Lowry said after a second consecutive 70 which featured three birdies and three bogeys.
"Being in contention in a tournament like this, what more do you want? It's great. I'm excited about tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it.
"It's tough. It's very tough. But I think it's playable. I think it's been getting a lot of stick.
"The greens are not the best surfaces, but if you hit a good putt nine times out of 10 it goes in. Sometimes you hit a good putt and it misses. That's the thing a lot of players are focusing on.
"It's tough to hit greens but at the end of the day it's a US Open. If you missed the green at Pinehurst last year you couldn't chip. I think that was a little more unfair than this is."
Asked if such an attitude was vital, the 28-year-old added: "Yeah, I said it about three or four months ago.
"A couple of guys came up and played here and then I saw a few comments on Twitter from a few people. Talking about the golf course before you get here is not necessarily the right thing to do.
"You want to get here and see it and see how it plays. When I got here on Monday I thought, yeah, it's a bit funky, like the first (hole) if you miss it left.
"But the more you play it, the more it grows on you and that's what I felt. And that was one of the reasons I think I'm in the position I'm in today.
"It would obviously mean everything (to win). I'm going to go out there and give it a hundred per cent tomorrow and what happens will happen.
"I think if I played the way I played today I should have a chance coming down the last few holes."
It has taken a remarkably insightful 21-year-old to put a professional perspective on the quirky challenge of Chambers Bay. "If you are going to talk negative about a place," said Jordan Spieth, "you're almost throwing yourself out to begin with because golf is a mental game."
As the US Open surged to a thrilling climax on this day two years ago, Kevin Phelan sat with the game's elite in the players' lounge at Merion, pleased to have gone where no Irish amateur had gone before. There, he marvelled at television images of a winning par from Justin Rose on the 511-yard 18th, which he himself had been satisfied to bogey some hours earlier.