Bryson DeChambeau took the lead of the joint clubhouse with six under par midway through the second round of the players’ championship at TPC Sawgrass.
He signed for a trio 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.
Among the laggards is Sergio Garcia, who led after the first round of seven in Florida, with Rory McIlroy opening with a seven over 79.
And with the halfway point scheduled for the par, McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the 2019 champion, knows he needs to take 14 fewer shots today to improve his chances of playing the final two rounds.
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, who opened with a 68 in the first round, and Lee Westwood who had a 69, are also among the late arrivals on Friday.
DeChambeau shines among the major trios
After a wild race through 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, collecting birdies on the 11th, 16th, 17th and sixth holes before finishing with another on the ninth to sign 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 at my best, but I managed to throw it away,” he said. “I hit my pilot perfectly in one hole, then quite right in the next. I just need to focus on putting the ball into play.”
He played with world number one and 2020 Masters winner Dustin Johnson and reigning PGA American Championship winner Collin Morikawa.
Johnson had four birdies in his first seven holes for three sous in total. He matched two bogeys with two birdies on his second nine before losing two shots in the seventh after finding the water with his tee shot.
He missed a seven-foot bird putt in the ninth as he signed for a total of two under 70s and one under total.
Morikawa shot a 73 but birdied his last two holes to finish right over the cut mark at normal level.