Nowhere was this more evident than on the par five first hole, McIlroy's 10th of his second round, where the Northern Irishman elected to putt from just off the front of the green but would have that Spider Red - in his bag for the first time - in his hands for four successive putts: one putt onto the actually green; then, from eight feet; then, five feet; and, finally, from two feet - into the hole.
The U.S. Open didn't seem to faze him, and he delivered a variety of big shots that led to his sensational finish.
Hideki Matsuyama was part of a five-strong group a shot further back after a brilliant 65, the Japanese star racing to the turn in 30 and picking up another shot on the 13th before having to settle for five closing pars. His third shot went over the back of the green, and it took him five shots from there, including a chip that rolled back to his feet. Results are not what will make this a great week at Erin Hills for the 50-year-old Stricker.
"Showed up for the last six holes, anyway", he said. He just missed an eagle at the par-5 seventh after a long putt rolled just wide of the cup.
Jamie Lovemark made a bomb for birdie on the 18th hole to shoot his second consecutive 69 and be tied for fifth, alongside Fowler and J.B. Holmes (69).
Amazingly it could have been even better if not for bogeys on the fourth and 10th, as well as a missed eagle putt from six feet on the 15th after he had driven the green on the 288-yard par four.
With Erin Hills hosting a U.S. Open for the first time, we wondered what kind of player this newcomer to golf's major championship stage would favor.
McIlroy however, who is returning from a hip and back injury, put a fearless face on his second consecutive missed cut at a US Open following his exit at the halfway stage in 2016.
With 12 players within two shots of the lead, the U.S. Open leaderboard could see a lot of changes on what is known as "moving day". They are still about three hours away from teeing off.
The 24-year-old's score is the lowest in relation to par in the history of the US Open, surpassing the eight-under 63 carded by Johnny Miller to win at Oakmont in 1973. And if that's not enough of a traffic jam at the top, 18 players are separated by three shots to start the third round.
Harman, a two-time PGA Tour victor, is playing in just his third U.S. Open, but he is still an unlikely frontrunner.