Casey laid up in the rough, took two chops to get out of more rough behind the 14th green, and staggered away with a triple-bogey 8 that might have ruined his day at Erin Hills.
"I was a little mad at myself because I could feel I was hungry on 14 (where he parred the par-five) and 15".
He made four birdies over the last six holes to salvage a 71, but he still missed the cut for the second straight year. It didn't get any better when he made the green.
That is the lowest score in relation to par in the 122 year history of the US Open, and it allowed Thomas to come hurtling out of the pack to set an imposing 54-hole target as he walked into the clubhouse at 11 under.
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McIlroy won the US Open with a record 16-under-par total in 2011, but was a combined 50 over par for his seven other appearances before this week and missed the cut at Oakmont a year ago following rounds of 77 and 71.
He then hacked out his fifth out sideways and now some 52-feet from the hole from where he chipped and two putted.
"For me, if I can just stay where I am, just keep doing what I'm doing, I'll have a chance".
Fowler, meanwhile, entered the round with a one-shot lead over Casey and Xander Schauffele, who is now in the group at 5 under.
One day later, it looked like more of the same as he went out in 34 and extended his bogey-free streak to 27 holes. Johnson won by one, though maybe Fleetwood's most memorable moment there, for better or worse, was the embarrassingly bad high-five he shared with his caddie after draining a long birdie putt to pull within one. After tying for a distant second at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Fowler missed the cut in his last two U.S. Open starts.
"I was a little anxious going out there", McIlroy said.
The top 60 and ties make the cut at the U.S. Open.
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The last team to qualify for the Champions Trophy still charts a path that resembles a heartbeat on a monitor. Defending champions India had got the better of their rivals in the league stage of the ongoing tournament.
"I'm playing the weekend", Fowler said. "Then three-putt the next two holes". PGA champion Jimmy Walker missed the cut as he continues to recover from Lyme Disease.
"Every golfer thinks it could have been a bit better", said Justin's father, Mike Thomas, the head professional Harmony Landing Country Club in Goshen, Ky., and the man who taught his son the unbelievable efficient golf swing.
Among the early starters on another steamy day at Erin Hills, Casey survived a hair-raising round that included a gut-wrenching triple-bogey and a thrilling run of five straight birdies and ended with him signing for one-under 71.
McIlroy, sidelined for a month with rib and back injuries, could not shake off the rust missing the U.S. Open cut for the second consecutive year.
Big hitters Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day were expected to thrive on the wide open fairways of Erin Hills.
"But I still think things are going to toughen up".
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