Jason Day's promising Wells Fargo Championship title defence has crumbled with a three-over-par 74 third round on a storm-interrupted Saturday.
Day went into the round tied sixth but finished tied 28th, nine shots behind joint leaders Jason Dufner (71), Max Homa (70) and cancer survivor Joel Dahmen (70).
Australia's former world No.1 mixed two birdies with three bogeys and a double bogey on the Quail Hollow course in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Overnight leader Dahmen, 2013 US PGA Championship winner Dufner and Homa got to 11-under 202, one shot clear of Pat Perez who had a bogey-free 66.
Very much in the mix is Rory McIlroy, who was reminded at every turn that it was his 30th birthday. He had a 68 to be two shots behind the leaders.
John Senden overtook Day as the leading Australian, tied 22nd at three under after a 69
Storms moved in sooner than expected causing two delays, each lasting a little more than an hour.
Dahmen, who keeps a light perspective on golf following his brush with cancer, had never been in the top five starting a round on the weekend before.
He had a chance to fade quickly when he found himself four shots behind after five holes, including a double bogey at the third hole.
He answered with a shot into 12 feet on the par-5 seventh for eagle, a wedge to 6 feet for birdie on the next hole and solid golf the rest of the way.
"I thought I was going to be a lot more nervous in those opening holes and I wasn't," Dahmen said.
"After I made double, then I got nervous because I didn't want to shoot myself out of this thing. I wanted to keep having fun and keep being in this tournament. Geno, my caddie, did a great job today, just kept it light."
With two players going for their first win, and Dufner still trying to emerge from a slump, McIlroy liked his position two shots behind.
He is well placed to join Tom Weiskopf as the only three-time winners at Quail Hollow. Weiskopf won the old Kemper Open three times on this course before the tournament moved to Washington.
"This golf course really rewards patience and rewards discipline," McIlroy said. "And I feel like I was both of those today."