Bryson DeChambeau moved into the joint clubhouse lead on six under par midway through round two of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
He signed for a three-under 69 to join fellow Americans Brian Harman and Denny McCarthy in the lead.
World number two Jon Rahm had a 68 to improve to four under overall.
Sergio Garcia, who led after round one on seven under in Florida, is among the late starters, along with Rory McIlroy who opened with a seven-over 79.
And with the halfway cut projected for level par, Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, the 2019 champion, knows he needs to take 14 shots fewer today to improve his chances of playing the final two rounds.
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, who opened with a 68 in round one, and Lee Westwood who had a 69, are also both among the late starters on Friday.
DeChambeau shines among major trio
After a wild drive into the trees on the 10th, his first hole of the day, DeChambeau started with a double-bogey six.
However, he played solid golf from there on, picking up birdies on the 11th, 16th, 17th and sixth holes before finishing with another on the ninth to sign for a second round of 69.
However, he was not happy with his performance and said he was heading for a 90-minute practice session.
“I’m not hitting it be best but I was able to scrap it round,” he said. “I hit my driver perfectly one hole and then pretty far right the next. I just have to focus on putting the ball in play.”
He was playing with world number one and 2020 Masters winner Dustin Johnson, and reigning US PGA Championship victor Collin Morikawa.
Johnson had four birdies in his opening seven holes to get to three under overall. He matched two bogeys with two birdies on his second nine before dropping two shots on the seventh after finding the water with his tee shot.
He missed a seven-foot birdie putt on the ninth as he signed for a two-under 70 and one under total.
Morikawa shot a 73 but birdied his final two holes to finish right on the cut mark at level par.