Rory McIlroy roared back on the second day of The Barclays with a brilliant six-under-par 65, but the world number one still trails joint leaders Adam Scott and Cameron Tringale by five shots heading into the weekend.
McIlroy, looking to add to his victories at the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship, suffered a nightmare start on Thursday as he carded a 74 that left him nine shots behind pacesetter Bo Van Pelt.
However, the Northern Irishman enjoyed a much better day on Friday, recording a blemish-free round that included three birdies on the front nine and three more on his way back - including the 12th and 13th holes, where he dropped three shots in total on the first day.
McIlroy's efforts left him on three under for the tournament, alongside the likes of Sergio Garcia (68) and Charl Schwartzel (70), although they were some way off the leading duo at the Ridgewood Country Club.
Scott, the world number two and defending champion, matched McIlroy's 65 - the Australian recording seven birdies and a bogey - while American Tringale followed up his opening-day 66 with a 68.
Graeme McDowell shot a 68 to finish on four under.
Scott felt his round could have been even lower, saying on www.pgatour.com: "I played the par fives in one over today, so I could find four (strokes) there for you, and missed so many 10-footers..."
They hold a one-shot lead over a group of three Americans in second place, Kevin Chappell (67), Brendon Todd (69) and Jim Furyk (69).
Swede Henrik Stenson leads the European challenge on six under after a brilliant 64, alongside Scotland's Russel Knox, who shot a two-under-par 69.
Overnight leader Van Pelt (71) and Kevin Na (66) are also in the six-man group on six under, along with Jason Day who matched Stenson's magnificent round of 64 - the lowest of the day - after recording four birdies in his final six holes, and Ernie Els.
Els, 44, said after his second successive 68: "I'm starting to feel like the old Ernie again on the greens. So it's exciting."
Among those to have missed the cut are English duo Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer of Germany.