Masters champion Charl Schwartzel put himself in position to challenge for his second major of the year with a superb 67 on day two of the Open.
The 26-year-old South African holed five birdies at Royal St George's to move to two under par.
It left him just two strokes behind early clubhouse leaders Darren Clarke and Lucas Glover.
Germany's Martin Kaymer, winner of the 2010 USPGA title, was also well-placed after a 69 left him on three under.
Kaymer, playing in the group immediately behind Schwartzel alongside defending champion Louis Oosthuizen and four-time major champion Phil Mickelson, was steady, rather than spectacular.
He was satisfied, however, with his overall position after two birdies and a single bogey at the eighth.
"I think the first two rounds, they were fairly good, and I'm happy with that. But if the weather comes in, if the rain comes in and the wind, then it's (going to be) a battle.
"Then you need to fight, and it becomes very difficult to keep that position. But I'm ready for it. I had a week off last week, so I'm prepared to show some mental strength out there," said the world number three.
Kaymer's round was matched by Mickelson, who finished on one under, while Oosthuizen managed to salvage a level-par 70 with the help of three back-nine birdies to end the day two over.
He had far less to smile about, though, than compatriot Schwartzel, whose round was joint joint lowest among the early starters along with France's Raphael Jacquelin.
Schwartzel had a lucky escape at the par-five 14th where, having already been in sand off the tee, his third shot was heading for the rough but rebounded off a spectators' head and into a bunker.
He managed to get up and down for his par but admitted: "It was a good break. Sometimes you need those things to go your way."
Schwartzel said he had been surprised by how far the ball was running on the fairways in his outward half.
"It was playing like a parkland course. But when we turned for the back nine it started getting windy and it got tough.
"It was going so far and you were ending up in bunkers that didn't seem possible. The wind has got to be blowing for you to be hitting it that far."
A third 67 was posted later in the day by veteran American Tom Lehman, the Open champion at Royal Lytham in 1996.
The 52-year-old from Minnesota had two birdies either side of the turn to join Schwartzel and a group of others on two under.
"Not being able to carry the ball as far actually benefits you in some ways on a lot of these tee shots," said Lehman.
"The balls that travel so much further in the air tend to land in spots which are a lot more bouncy, a lot more humps and bumps. Balls that fly shorter, like mine, tend to land on more the flat spots."
He added: "I know my first time playing here I thought I had to be perfect, but you can hit some really square-looking shots and you realise 'I can play from here'.
"You stop fretting so much about the shots that kind of look goofy. As long as you miss it in the right areas, you can always play."