Rory McIlroy carded his tenth sub 70 round on the trot to get back on track to win the $10m FedEx Cup bonus.
While American Jim Furyk shot a sensational 64 - starting with seven successive threes and going to the turn in 29 - to lead Tour Championship by a shot from Justin Rose on seven under in Atlanta, McIlroy came back from a shaky start to card a 68 and share seventh at halfway.
After holing a 25-foot eagle putt on the 16th to get within four shots of Furyk with two rounds to play, world No 1 McIlroy is still in with a chance of winning for the third time in a row and the fourth in five starts.
However, he does not have to win at East Lake to clinch the FedEx Cup and with second-ranked Tiger Woods slipping back to 12th after a 73, his chances of earning an extra $10m have improved.
“I think first and foremost, I just have to try to think of my standing in this golf tournament, not really think about anything else,” McIlroy said of the FedEx Cup scenarios.
“If it comes down to it on Sunday where I need to really know what I have to do for the last few holes, then of course if I have a decision to make between protecting my lead in the FedExCup or trying to win the golf tournament, I think I know what I’m going to choose.
“But we just have to play until we reach that point, and at the minute, I’m just concentrating on trying to play as well as I can.”
Asked about his decision to put his Moneyreagh home on the market for £2m, he said: “I’m only spending about two weeks a year back home, so from a financial point of view it didn’t make sense to keep it.
“I’m travelling all over the world, I don’t have a full-time base over here and don’t think I will for a while.”
On many of his weeks off McIlroy travels to see Danish girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, the former tennis world number one, and he added: “Hopefully when I go home Mum and Dad will have a room for me!”
He had a lucky break on the 10th, hooking his drive against a fence but being given a free drop because of ground under repair.
Woods resumed with an untidy bogey after pushing his approach to the first into a bunker and his birdies at the third and seventh both came after he had driven into more sand.
He missed the green at the next, fluffed a chip and double-bogeyed, came back with a birdie, but then dropped more strokes at the 11th and 12th and followed a birdie at the 13th with back to back bogeys at the 16th and 17th.
“I didn’t play very good today,” Woods said. “Didn’t hit it very good, and definitely didn’t putt well. So it was a struggle all day….
“I’m still right there. This is a golf course that is playing tough. But some of the pins are pretty accessible. But you’ve got to get the ball on the fairway.
“This Bermuda rough is thin enough where every ball is sitting at the bottom. It just won’t sit up. It’s just really hard to judge how far it’s going to be, and sometimes it doesn’t even fly straight. It’s imperative to get the ball on the fairway, and from there, can you attack.
“I’m going to go hit some balls and putt for a while. I figured something out on the back nine with my stroke, which was good. But I still need to hit the ball better than I did today, for sure.”
Furyk won the FedEx Cup two years ago and looked to have a chance of a 59 when he had seven birdies in the first 10.
More came at the 15th and 17th, but there were also bogeys at the 13th, 16th and 18th.
“For me the back nine plays quite a bit tougher,” the 42-year-old said. “I stumbled a bit again, but I’ve got myself back in the hunt.
“When I’m playing well I can play on any course and here there’s more of a premium on keeping the ball in play.”