World champion Joel Parkinson and veteran Kelly Slater have been knocked out of the world surfing tour event at Trestles in California, paving the way for Mick Fanning and his bid for the 2013 title.
Defending Hurley Pro champion Slater, who leads Fanning on the standings with four stops left on the 10-event championship, went down to fellow American Patrick Gudauskas in a shock round-three defeat.
Australia's Parkinson also struggled in less-than-favourable conditions, losing out to compatriot Adam Melling in his third round heat.
Both Slater and Parkinson lost first-up but managed to survive their sudden-death second-round heats.
Their early exits have provided a boost for for two-time world champion Fanning, who outscored Brazilian Alejo Muniz to advance.
He will join fellow Australians Melling, Taj Burrow, Kai Otton, Josh Kerr and Julian Wilson in the next round.