(CNN) -- Defending champion Tiger Woods carded a one-under-par second round 69 to make the cut for the last two rounds of the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, but he goes into the final 36 holes a whopping 11 shots off the pace.
World number one Woods made the halfway cut but lies 11 strokes off the pace at Bethpage Black.
Wooods has only ever missed one cut in a major as a professional, in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot when he was still grieving the death of his father, and for a while that proud record looked in serious jeopardy.
With the cut on four-over-par and under, Woods was on the cusp when he reached the 18th hole -- his ninth -- before making back-to-back birdies to give him some much-needed breathing space.
A further birdie, along with two bogeys including one on his final hole, ensured Woods -- who is seeking his 15th major victory this week -- finished on 143 (+3).
Although the world number one has achieved many remarkable feats on a golf course, victory here would surely top everything else.
Not since Lou Graham, who triumphed from 11 shots back to win at Medinah, Illinois in 1975, has a player come from so far behind to win the U.S. Open.
With the rain that has plagued the tournament continuing to fall steadily throughout the day, Woods was forced to dig deep to avoid joining the list of big names who will not be returning for the final two days.
Among those on their way home are two-times former winner Ernie Els, whose run of poor form continued as he finished on 15-over-par despite having played in the best of the conditions.
Also missing the cut were British world number three Paul Casey, who carded a second successive 75 to finish on 10-over-par, and reigning British Open and US PGA champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland, who carded matching rounds of 76.
Top Europeans Darren Clarke (+10), Miguel Angel Jimenez (+5) and Justin Rose (+8) will also not be back for the final two rounds.
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