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Westwood on the charge

Lee Westwood produced an astonishing charge in an attempt to give runaway leader Rory McIlroy something to think about at the US Open.

Congressional's back nine is rated much the harder of the two, but after a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th Westwood then rolled home a 20-foot putt for eagle at the 570-yard next.

Suddenly, having been down in 84th spot after his opening 75, the world number two - also chasing his first major title after a string of near-misses - was in second place. Two closing pars meant a joint best-of-the-week 65 and a five under aggregate of 208.

However, McIlroy, a record-equalling six in front of the field at halfway, had played the first eight holes in one under. That put the 22-year-old, bidding to become the youngest winner since Bobby Jones in 1923 and the second successive Northern Irishman after Graeme McDowell, to 12 under par and seven clear.

But it was proving harder work than McIlroy had wanted. Forced to wait until 3.50pm to resume after setting a championship record 11 under aggregate for the opening 36 holes - even with a double bogey on the last hole of his second round - McIlroy was in trouble on the third and fourth.

First his drive was pushed into thick rough and with branches in front of him he opted to chip out, then pitched from 100 yards to three feet.

By then playing partner YE Yang, the only man within nine shots of him overnight, had slipped seven behind, straying into a bunker off the tee at the short second and failing even to make the green from there.

McIlroy was in sand himself on the fifth, but almost holed it and then went eight in front with a 12-footer on the next. But he had to settle for pars on the long sixth and almost driveable eighth after driving into rough both times.

Australian Jason Day, joint runner-up to Charl Schwartzel there, burst alongside Westwood in second place when he holed from 35 feet at the 16th and almost as far on the last for a brilliant 65.

One further back in fourth were Yang, Swede Fredrik Jacobson and Americans Matt Kuchar and Robert Garrigus.

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