A courageous Jason Day has defied struggles with vertigo to surge to a share of the lead in the third round of the US Open at Chambers Bay.
Still battling the problem which caused him to collapse on the course on Friday, world No.10 Day put together a brilliant two-under-par 68 on Saturday to move to four-under for the championship.
He was sharing the lead with Americans Dustin Johnson (16 holes) and Jordan Spieth (15 holes) and South African Branden Grace (16 holes) late in the day.
“I didn’t feel that great coming out early, and then I felt pretty groggy on the front nine just from the drugs that I had in my system, then kind of flushed that out on the back nine,” said Day.
“But it (vertigo) kind of came back. The vertigo came back a little bit on the 13th tee box, and then I felt nauseous all day.
“I started shaking on 16 tee box and then I just tried to get it in, really. I just wanted to get in.”
Day’s career-long caddie and coach Col Swatton revealed Day almost retired several times and he was in awe of his charge’s performance in the circumstances.
“Jason almost quit three times on the back nine,” said Swatton.
“It is the greatest round I have ever seen from him.”
Invoking memories of Ken Venturi’s 1964 US Open win when he battled heat exhaustion to claim the trophy, Day has become a huge crowd favourite and received loud applause around the course.
The 27-year-old Queenslander has struggled with his health this year and also pulled out of last August’s World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational with a similar vertigo problem.
“Last year I didn’t play the round after I had vertigo and this one was worse,” Day said.
“I think the goal was just to go through today and see how it goes.”
After collapsing on his final hole of his second round on Friday and subsequently being diagnosed with benign positional vertigo, Day wasn’t even a certainty to tee it up Saturday.
The 27-year-old was noticeably trying to keep his head level to prevent another episode – struggling to tee his ball up and retrieve it from the cup all day.
Although his opening hole birdie try from 20-feet missed, Day was given a huge standing ovation by the grandstand off the first green, a sign of things to come as the masses rallied around.
A three-putt bogey on the second and another dropped shot after failing to get up and down from the sand on the fourth could have easily sent the Australian looking for the exit door but he knuckled down with five straight pars.
Then he made his move.
A precision approach to four feet on the 10th put him back under par for the week and right in the mix.
A bogey on the 11th was rubbed out with a birdie on the 12th and when he hit a shot inside 10 feet on the par three 15th and buried the putt it was game on.
Another long birdie on the 17th hole put him just one off the pace before he birdied the last to tally three birdies in his last four holes.
Day has seven top-10 finishes in major championships, including three runner-ups, a third and a fourth.
Day’s young countryman Cameron Smith, on debut in the majors, shot a brilliant 69 to move to one-under and a tie for fifth.
A top five finish would get him a US PGA Tour card.
Adam Scott shot a 72 to be tied 19th at three-over.