Pebble Beach - Tiger Woods wrestled an even par 71 out of Pebble Beach Golf Links on Saturday in a gritty performance that left him 11 shots off the third round pace at the US Open.
Woods' five birdies were one more than he managed in both prior rounds combined.
But after two bogeys in his first three holes he was struggling all the way.
"I got off to a crap start," the 15-time major champion said.
"Two-under through three, and those are the easier holes.
"I had to try to fight back and claw out a round today, which I was able to do."
Woods said the par-71 course with majestic views of the Pacific was playing faster than it did on Thursday and Friday, but there were still birdies to be had, even from less than ideal spots.
Woods ended a 19-hole run without a birdie when he made back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth, rolling in a 24-footer at the par-three fifth to a roar of approval from the massive gallery.
He gave a shot back with a bogey at the par-three seventh, where he rolled a 38-foot birdie try two feet past then missed the putt for par.
He was two-over after another bogey at 12, birdied 14, then bogeyed 15 before he drained a 30-footer for birdie on 16 and two-putted for birdie at the last.
At even par 213 he wasn't ready to concede he was out of it.
"I got off to an awful start, and clawed it around, but still gave myself a chance for tomorrow, which is positive," Woods said.
"There are a lot of guys ahead of me right now.
"Seems like everyone is doing what I was supposed to do earlier, which is play two- to four-under par through the first seven. We'll see what they do coming in."
Woods played with therapeutic tape on his neck and admitted the chilly temperatures and morning mist did no favours to his 43-year-old surgically repaired body.
"When it's cold like this everything is achy," he said. "It's just part of the deal.
"It's been like that for years," Woods said, adding: "I feel every shot I hit."
Nevertheless, Woods didn't blame any physical problems for his inability to gain ground.
"No, I've had my chances to post good rounds today, this week. Today was a perfect example, I fought back and if I was able to clean up my rounds the first two days, I would be closer to the lead than I am now."
Third round scores on Saturday in the 119th US Open Golf Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links (par-71):
202 - Gary Woodland (USA) 68-65-69
203 - Justin Rose (ENG) 65-70-68
206 - Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 66-70-70, Chez Reavie (USA) 68-70-68, Brooks Koepka (USA) 69-69-68
207 - Rory McIlroy (NIR) 68-69-70
208 - Chesson Hadley (USA) 68-70-70, Matt Kuchar (USA) 69-69-70
209 - Jon Rahm (ESP) 69-70-70, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 68-71-70, Danny Willett (ENG) 71-71-67, Matt Wallace (ENG) 70-68-71, Graeme McDowell (NIR) 69-70-70
210 - Adam Scott (AUS) 70-69-71, An Byeong-Hun (KOR) 70-72-68, Xander Schauffele (USA) 66-73-71
211 - Francesco Molinari (ITA) 68-72-71, Abraham Ancer (MEX) 74-68-69, Scott Piercy (USA) 67-72-72, Dustin Johnson (USA) 71-69-71, Brandon Wu (USA) 71-69-71, Nate Lashley (USA) 67-74-70
212 - Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 69-73-70, Patrick Cantlay (USA) 73-71-68, Jim Furyk (USA) 73-67-72, Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 69-71-72
213 - Marc Leishman (AUS) 69-74-70, Jason Day (AUS) 70-73-70, Li Haotong (CHN) 71-70-72, Viktor Hovland (NOR) 69-73-71, Tiger Woods (USA) 70-72-71, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 70-74-69
214 - Nick Taylor (CAN) 74-70-70, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 69-70-75, Shane Lowry (IRL) 75-69-70, Jason Dufner (USA) 70-71-73, Billy Horschel (USA) 73-70-71, Rickie Fowler (USA) 66-77-71, Jordan Spieth (USA) 72-69-73, Alex Prugh (USA) 75-69-70
215 - Martin Kaymer (GER) 69-75-71, Carlos Ortiz (MEX) 70-70-75, Tom Hoge (USA) 71-73-71, Webb Simpson (USA) 74-68-73, Chandler Eaton (USA) 72-70-73, Paul Casey (ENG) 70-72-73, Rhys Enoch (WAL) 78-66-71
216 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 68-74-74, Sepp Straka (AUT) 68-72-76, Erik van Rooyen (RSA) 71-73-72, Rory Sabbatini (SVK) 72-71-73, Billy Hurley III (USA) 73-70-73, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 69-74-73, Phil Mickelson (USA) 72-69-75, Patrick Reed (USA) 71-73-72, Harris English (USA) 71-69-76, Collin Morikawa (USA) 71-73-72, Aaron Wise (USA) 66-71-79, Charles Howell III (USA) 72-70-74
217 - Adrià Arnaus (ESP) 69-75-73, Andrew Putnam (USA) 73-71-73, Daniel Berger (USA) 73-70-74, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 71-73-73
218 - Rafael Cabrera (ESP) 70-74-74, Clement Sordet (FRA) 76-68-74, Marcus Kinhult (SWE) 74-70-74, Zach Johnson (USA) 70-69-79, Kevin Kisner (USA) 73-70-75, Andy Pope (USA) 72-71-75, Brian Stuard (USA) 71-73-74, Brandt Snedeker (USA) 75-69-74
219 - Kyle Stanley (USA) 71-73-75, Charlie Danielson (USA) 72-70-77, Luke Donald (ENG) 72-70-77
220 - Cameron Smith (AUS) 71-72-77, Chip McDaniel (USA) 71-73-76
221 - Justin Walters (RSA) 72-72-77
222 - Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 71-73-78
228 - Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) 71-73-84