Adam Scott has raised hopes that an elusive second career major may yet be forthcoming after defying darkness to equal his best start to a US Open.
Scott birdied his last two holes in a one-under-par 70 to be the leading Australian, just three shots off the lead, during a weather-marred first round at Torrey Pines.
The former World No.1 produced an inspired fightback as American Russell Henley and South African Louis Oosthuizen set the pace at four under.
Henley was safely in the clubhouse after signing for 67 before play was suspended for the night due to darkness. Oosthuizen, meanwhile, has two holes to play.
Thick fog had earlier delayed proceedings by more than 90 minutes.
After two early bogies, Scott surged right into contention with birdies on the 9th, 17th and 18th holes just as the horn sounded due to deteriorating light.
"That will make dinner taste a whole lot better," commentators said after Scott drained a 12-footer on the par-5 last to climb into red figures for the first time all day.
Scott has only twice in 19 previous US Open starts shot under par in the first round, in 2009 and 2019, when he eventually finished tied for seventh.
The 40-year-old remains desperate to add a second major championship trophy to his 2013 Masters green jacket and just his 10th sub-par effort in 61 US Open rounds left him in a share of 11th spot.
Countryman Cameron Smith was even par late in his round when play was suspended just before 8pm Californian time.
Unable to buy a birdie until the 16th hole, Smith would nevertheless have been happy after making a series of clutch par putts as his signature scrambling came to the fore.
The Aussie No.1 had his only dropped shot on the 15th before rebounding immediately on the par-3 16th to remain level with the card.
Smith must return early on Friday to complete the last two holes of his round.
So too will Matt Jones, who was one over through 16 holes when play was stopped.
Wade Ormsby, playing in only his second major championship after missing the US Open cut four years ago, is five back of the lead after an eventful round of 72.
The 41-year-old European Tour regular mixed four birdies with five bogies and nine pars.
"Bit of a slow start but made a couple birdies quickly on 13 and 14 to get me back going in the right direction," Ormsby said.
"But played pretty good. A little bit disappointed – I probably could have squeezed a couple more out of it at the end, but overall it's nice to be going the right direction."
Marc Leishman leaked three shots in his last four holes in a three-over 74.
Brad Kennedy, 47, carded a 74 on his US Open debut, but fellow veteran Steve Allan will almost certainly miss the halfway cut after shooting 80.
- Darren Walton, Australian Associated Press