Lee Westwood recorded the joint-best score of the second round to move up the Open leaderboard and put himself in contention for his first major.
The 40-year-old from Worksop, runner-up in 2010, holed five birdies on the front nine, finishing with a 68 for an overall two under par at Muirfield.
"I made the most of the earlier softer conditions," he told BBC Sport.
"It's playing tough out there. It's about not making too many mistakes and having a lot of patience."
Only 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel could match the Englishman's three-under-par round of 68.
Westwood added: "I thought one over would be right in contention so to be two under is a real bonus and it could be leading at the end of the day."
The former world number one has recently started working with putting coach and 1991 Open winner Ian-Baker Finch, who he believes has helped him in an area some have deemed to be his weakness.
"There's a little more connection between the arms and body - he's given me a few more tips to clear the mind," he added.
"I feel very confident with 10 footers. I start off with the line I've picked and that's always a good thing."
Picking up shots became more difficult for the players as the day progressed, with the Muirfield course firming up and becoming trickier on yet another hot and dry day.
Westwood suffered too. He was out in 31, but 37 coming in, bogeying 13, 14 and the last.
"The greens and fairways are getting firmer," added the world number 12.
"A lot of guys will start knocking it five, six, seven feet past the hole - we might see a lot of fun and games."
When asked whether Justin Rose's recent maiden major win at the US Open had given him the belief that he could break his duck, Westwood said: "The fact I have contended in so many majors gives me enough confidence.
"I was pleased with Justin's win but it didn't do too much for me."