Most golf fans don't recognize the name Billy Horschel, but they should.
The 26-year-old finished first, second and third in a 4-event span earlier this year.
Horschel fired a 3-under 67 Friday to grab the clubhouse lead at 1-under 139 at the U.S. Open. He was the only player in red figures with the afternoon wave still on the course at Merion Golf Club.
The Zurich Classic winner has come a long way since missing 18 of 29 cuts from 2009-11.
He is making his second major championship start of his career. The other was in 2006 at the U.S. Open, where he shot 75-77 and missed the cut.
World No. 6 Luke Donald struggled to a 2-over 72 and dropped to even-par 140. John Senden had reached minus-2, but fell back to 1-over 141 for the championship after a 1-over 71 in round two. Mathew Goggin tripped to a 4- over 74 to dip to plus-2 for the championship.
They are the top four on the leaderboard that are in the clubhouse.
World Nos. 1 and 2, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, are tied at 3-over 143. They both went 73-70 as they finished both of their first two rounds today.
Two lengthy weather delays led to a suspension for darkness on Thursday. Woods and McIlroy were on the 11th green of their first round when play resumed.
Their playing partner, Masters champion Adam Scott, struggled to a 5-over 75 to plummet to 7-over 147 after 36 holes. Despite that score, Scott is within the projected cut line.
Among those unlikely to make it to the weekend as Zach Johnson, David Toms, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, Angel Cabrera and local favorite Jim Furyk.
Horschel had a birdie on the second and eight pars in his first nine holes. He birdied the 10th and 11th to move to minus-1 for the championship.
After a par at 12, he 3-putted for bogey on the short, par-3 13th. Horschel atoned for that mistake with one of the four birdies in round two on the par-4 18th to end at 1-under-par.