Graeme McDowell fired a 67 to lie joint second on seven under par after the third round of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
McDowell bogeyed the second and fifth holes but also carded birdies at the fourth and eighth on his outward nine.
Impressive birdies at the 13th, 14th and 17th saw the former US Open winner move to within four shots of leader Adam Scott, along with Brandt Snedeker.
Rory McIlroy carded a three-over-par 73 to lie five over for the tournament.
The world number two recorded bogeys at the fourth, fifth, eighth and 12th holes, then birdied the 16th.
"My struggles from Friday continued - I didn't get off to the greatest of starts and I couldn't salvage much after that," said McIlroy.
"It's hard to push on later on when you realise you are out of the tournament and I am a bit frustrated."
"I thought I could play myself back into the tournament with a good score, but it didn't happen," added the Northern Irishman.
McIlroy's playing partner Padraig Harrington is two over after a level-par 70 which included two birdies and two bogeys.
McDowell produced outstanding long putts at the fourth, 14th and 17th holes and could have added another birdie at the 16th, but his putt fell just short.
The Portrush man will play with Scott in the final group on Sunday, with Snedeker paired with Tiger Woods, who lies fourth on six under.
"I felt the tournament slipping away from me over the first six or seven holes - I didn't get out of the blocks fast enough," admitted McDowell.
"I was struggling but I dug deep for the patience I needed and the birdie at the eighth helped me turn it around.
"I am proud of how I played from the 14th on as I produced a lot of quality golf shots and hopefully got mtself back in this tournament.
"All I've wanted to do this week is to contend and now I can do that and the fact that I'm playing with Adam (Scott) means I can look the man in the eye that I need to look in the eye."
Defending champion Darren Clarke, Portrush amateur Alan Dunbar and Michael Hoey missed the cut.