McIlroy at least improved his position in round two, nearly holing his tee shot at his final hole - the par-three ninth - as he completed a 71 with four late birdies.
"We're in a good spot", said Fowler, 28, who is part of a different sort of leaderboard at this week's U.S. Open: Of the top 18 players on the board, not a single one, including Fowler, has ever won a major.
Jordan Spieth (71) snuck just inside the cut-line at even-par, while playing partner and defending US Open champion Dustin Johnson (73) missed the cut at four-over. But any bad taste in his mouth shouldn't last long because it's been an impressive week for the 29-year-old Valspar Championship victor from Abbotsford, B.C. In Thursday's first round, he tied a U.S. Open record by making six consecutive birdies en route to a four-under 68 and a share of seventh place.
In all, eight of the world's top 12 will the absent from the shootout for the title, including each of the top three for the first time since the world rankings were introduced in 1986.More news: NBA Champs Golden State Warriors Mulling Rejection of Trump White House Visit
Fowler, coming off a stunning 65 on the first day didn't find it quite so easy on Friday as he finished one over for the day and one shot off the lead after a 73. "You don't think you're going to shoot 7-under par at the U.S. Open".
A 338-yard drive off the tee took him to the edge of the green and he got up and down in two for a birdie.
Rory McIlroy hit back at suggestions he was "bored" with golf after missing the cut in the US Open for the second year in succession.
"When I first played in the (Greater Milwaukee Open), that was the hardest thing", he said.
However, the Englishman then produced a stunning comeback, picking up shots at five successive holes from the 17th to return to seven under. He'll head home to spend time with his son, River Jones Johnson, who was born Monday.More news: Pittsburgh Penguins G Matt Murray to start Game 5 vs. Nashville Predators
"Not every day you enjoy a round of golf with an 8 on the card, but I'm a pretty happy, man, " Casey said.
"We had a lot of fun out there", said Niebrugge, from Mequon, Wis., and the 2013 Western Amateur champion at The Alotian Club in Roland.
Not today: Jason Day of Australia shows his anguish at Erin Hills. "It's one of the hardest tests of golf we get through the year", Fowler said. "Yesterday (Thursday), I just hit some shots close and made some putts".
The one-under-par total was a substantial improvement on Thursday's six-over-par 78, but with the cut projected at one-over-par, it was too little, too late for the popular Northern Irishman.
"I still feel like I've got a lot of good golf in me, and that's what I'm trying to do this week", Stricker said. He went from pouring putts into the center of the cup to burning the edges, and his 39 on the back nine cost him the lead, though not his chances of breaking through for that first major. The Japanese star birdied six of his first eight holes Friday, finishing round two at five under for the tournament. "And just unfortunately, this didn't pan out". When I was younger it went everywhere.More news: Harry Kane: 'I want to be England captain full time'
He is making his third start at the U.S. Open, with missed cuts in both previous starts in 2012 (77-72) and 2015 (69-79). After all, the U.S. Open has a lengthy history of getting the last laugh and this championship is only at the halfway mark.
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