Colin Montgomerie expressed his satisfaction with a round of damage limitation at Winged Foot on Friday.
Montgomerie is not expecting things to get any easier
The 42-year-old carded 17 pars and one bogey to finish on level par for 36 holes, one shot off American journeyman Steve Stricker's US Open lead.
"There was a severe lack of birdies in my round, in fact none," he said.
"But it's not the birdies you make on these courses, it's the mistakes that you don't make. I only made one and that's good, very good."
Montgomerie mistake came at the par-four 14th, where he blocked his six-iron approach shot.
"I couldn't afford to go left, so I decided to go right and it went down the hill," he added. "I chipped up to six feet and I missed it."
Regarded as one of the best players yet to win a major, Montgomerie finished third on his US Open debut in 1992 and was runner-up to Ernie Els at Oakmont in 1994 and also at Congressional in 1997.
"My job in any tournament that I enter is to try to get into contention by Saturday night," said the Scot, who managed a runner-up finish at last year's Open and an eighth Order of Merit title last season.
Now Tiger is not here of course it gives everybody an opportunity - it would be nice to take full advantage of it
"So the next round is very important to stay in there and give myself a chance on Sunday.
"If I can get 17 pars out of this thing, I'll be happy, whatever the 18th one is."
Montgomerie, who was denied by Tiger Woods at the Open 11 months ago, admitted that the world number one's failure to make the cut had handed him, and everybody else in contention at Winged Foot, a huge opportunity.
"Well it helps us, it helps us all," he said.
"I've always said it's difficult to win majors in this era. Tiger usually takes two of them so that leaves two available.
"Phil (Mickelson), Ernie (Els), Retief (Goosen) and Vijay (Singh) take the rest so there are actually none left! Why am I here?
"Now Tiger is not here of course it gives everybody an opportunity. The one time he has missed the cut it would be nice to take full advantage of it."