While seven of the top 12 players heading into Saturday’s third round at the U.S. Open made at least one double bogey in strong wind and cool temperatures, Rory McIlroy was not among them.

The 2011 U.S. Open champion and four-time major winner made just one birdie in his score of three-over 73 on moving day at Brookline, but his putter provided salvation late. 

He was able to keep himself within striking distance with a string of par saves, to sit three shots back from co-leaders Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick heading into the final round on Sunday at The Country Club.

"It was one of the toughest days on a golf course I’ve had in a long time,” McIlroy said afterwards.

"I just needed to grind it out, and I did on the back nine. To play that back nine at even par today was a really good effort, I thought. Just kept myself in the tournament. That's all I was trying to do. Just keep hanging around.

"I had some really good putts for pars coming in, 13, 15, great up-and-down on 16, good putt on 17. Then was really fortunate at the last to get that drop from the grandstand and be able to hit it on the green from there."

With only nine players under par for the tournament, blustery and overcast conditions provided palpable difficulty on Saturday.

"I know guys aren’t going to go out there and shoot the lights out," McIlroy said. "I mean, 67 from Will out there today is unbelievable. Such a good score. 68 from Fitz as well.

"I certainly thought I was going to be a few shots further back than I was at the end of the day, but Jon [Rahm] struggled there coming in.

"Even though it was such a tough day and feel like I battled well and whatever, to still only be three back going into tomorrow is a good thing for me."