Matthew NeSmith stormed up the leaderboard with five birdies in his final seven holes to post a career-low round of 61 to take the second-round lead at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, with Shane Lowry nine shots adrift at the half-way mark.

Lowry, with birdies on the 1st, 13th and 14th holes, signed for a 68 which leaves him at the five-under mark. Graeme McDowell missed the cut on two after a 71.

NeSmith will enter the weekend at 14 under, ahead of Canadian Adam Hadwin and Scott Stallings on 12 under and Sam Burns a shot further back.

The 28-year-old out of the University of South Carolina, who is looking for his maiden PGA Tour victory, followed up his Thursday round of 67 by going bogey-free on the par-71 Copperhead Course layout at the Innisbrook Resort. NeSmith's score matched the course record, and he has yet to miss a putt under 10 feet through two rounds.

He narrowly missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole, his final one of the day, that would have established a new course record.

Justin Thomas shot his second straight 66 to enter the third round alone in fifth place at 10 under, followed by Davis Riley, who was able add a 68 to his 65 from Thursday to reach nine under.

The 144-player field benefited from warm weather and calm conditions with the cut coming at three-under par.