Bethesda - British world No 1 Luke Donald and a mightily relieved Robert Karlsson of Sweden made the US Open cut with no margin to spare on Saturday as five former champions failed to advance.
Twenty-one players were still on the course when play was halted in fading light Friday and by the time they finished on an overcast Saturday morning at Congressional, the cut fell at four-over-par 146 with 72 players qualifying for weekend play.
Englishman Donald made it right on the number after shooting scores of 74 and 72, as did Karlsson who rebounded from an opening 79 with a six-birdie 67.
However, former winners Ernie Els from South Africa (1994 and 1997), Jim Furyk (2003), Michael Campbell (2005), Geoff Ogilvy (2006) and Angel Cabrera (2007) all missed out.
"I struggled on the back nine both days and that comes down to not hitting enough fairways and not hitting enough greens," Donald told reporters. "I hit 50 percent of fairways this week and you are always going to struggle on a course like this.
"I've got to find something on the weekend and shoot a couple of good rounds and see what happens. Rory (McIlroy) is well ahead but you keep fighting and see what you can do."
Donald trailed fellow Briton McIlroy by a distant 15 shots, the 22-year-old Northern Irishman having brought Congressional to its knees with scintillating scores of 65 and 66 for a US Open record total of 11-under 131.
Karlsson, who was beaten by American Harrison Frazar in a playoff for last week's St. Jude Classic, progressed to the third round after recording three birdies in his last seven holes.
"I just really wanted to go out and take it like a practice round because you can't ever practice playing these kinds of golf courses," the 6-foot-5 (1.95 m) Swede said.
"When I holed a good par putt on 11, I was six-over then and going to seven-over with seven holes to play would not have been much help. That was a good par save."
United States Ryder Cup players Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler, 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink and Britons Ian Poulter and Justin Rose were also among those who failed to advance.