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 past year following rounds of 77 and 71.
As for scoring drama - well, this was one time he may have wished he didn't know where he stood.
As for why Johnson, McIlroy and Day struggled, one possible reason is that all have battled injuries or personal situations over the first half of the season that may have kept them from being tournament-ready.
The course played much tougher than it did during Thursday's round.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who shot a 1-under 71 Friday to get to 3 under, said, "I think the greens are getting US Open-like, but not as firm as they're going to get if we don't get any rain".
"I was upset with the score I had made, but it did not have any effect on my attitude or how I was going to then approach the rest of the round or the next shot".
The stats prove him right.
A frustrated Johnson lamented his putting, having been above the field average for fairways hit and greens in regulation.
At least he'll have plenty of company at the airport.
Among the notable players to miss the cut, Rory McIlroy was able to salvage something from his brief appearance at the U.S. Open.
Said Johnson, who was 3 over: "I really like this golf course, it sets up well for me".
On a day with scoring more hard, Hadwin found his game to be a little off early in the round but he was able to grind out pars with great putting. Just look at the hole location sheet for the day's play on Friday; nearly all of them are hidden away near the edge of greens.
Johnson capped off this collective failure with a late collapse on the back nine at Erin Hills, making three bogeys over a five-hole stretch and closing with a 73. A year ago, he missed the cut by two shots at Oakmont.
A congested leaderboard and the potential for thunderstorms meant an enthralling day was in prospect at Erin Hills as the final groups prepared to go out in round three of the U.S. Open.
"Show up for the last six holes, anyway", McIlroy said. When you find yourself asking why, here's a brief explanation.
Matsuyama played alongside first-round leader Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm, ranked No. 10 in the world. Schauffele went 26 consecutive holes without a bogey until he rammed his long birdie putt on No. 9 about 12 feet by the hole and narrowly missed the par putt. Spieth ended up winning by a shot. But Erin Hills, this 11-year-old layout with which the game is still coming to terms, was a more demanding test than on Thursday.
His inward nine began with a further bogey on the long par-five first, which was followed by another bogey on the second which left him at eight over.
"All in all, I've got to be happy", Els said. "I had to hit it all".
The 26-year-old needed to birdie the 18th to equal the lowest score in relation to par in US Open history but missed from five feet.
Johnson said he plans to take four weeks off.
Day admitted the course lay-out had played on his mind in both his rounds. "I enjoyed the walk", he said.