Rory McIlroy shrugged off a frustrating day on the greens and continued his quest to turn back the clock in his search for his ideal swing.
The Holywood star (29) had 32 putts, including two three-putts, in a one-under 69 that left him just three shots off the pace in the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
He admitted he didn't the ball quite as well as he did in his opening 64 but hopes to light up TPC River Highlands over the weekend as he rediscovers some old swing feelings on the range.
“I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in,” said McIlroy, who is tied for eighth behind Brian Harman on seven-under-par.
"I started them online, did everything I needed to do, and it's just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.
"I felt like mentally I was pretty good. You sort of need to do that when you don't have your best stuff.
"If I just keep giving myself chances, hit a few more fairways over the weekend than I did today, and if I can keep doing that and keep giving myself chances, hopefully, I'll be able to move."
He is more concerned about getting his swing back in the groove and trying to recreate the feelings he had back in 2010.
"Obviously, you never want to miss a cut in a major, but it might have been a blessing in disguise for the rest of the year," he said of the work he's done since missing the cut in the US Open.
"I'm trying to get back to the way I swung in 2010, 2011. It’s sort of hard because my body has changed quite a bit since then and the feelings I have."
Left-hander Harman (31) made seven birdies in a four-under 66 to lead by a shot from Russell Henley (65), Zach Johnson (68) and Australian Matt Jones (66) on 10-under par.
Bryson DeChambeau (66), Paul Casey (67) and Beau Hossler (67) are just two behind in fifth with McIlroy tied for eighth on seven-under with two-time winner Bubba Watson and Lanto Griffin, who both shot 63s.
Pádraig Harrington battled to a 69 to share 17th on five-under while West Waterford's Seamus Power (31) carded five birdies in a 67 that left him tied with US Open champion Brooks Koepka on three-under par.
Graeme McDowell was five over for the tournament after dropping three shots in his first four holes but despite fighting back to card a 68, he missed the two-under par cut by two shots on level par.
It was also another frustrating day for joint overnight leader Jordan Spieth, who followed his opening 63 with a 73 to slip back to four-under.
McBride cut in Pulheim
Meanwhile, Australian Scott Hend fired a sensational 67 in windy conditions to lead the BMW International Open by a stroke from Q-School graduates Nico Geyger of Chile and Sweden’s Henric Sturehed on six-under.
Local favourite Martin Kaymer shot a 68 to lurk just two off the pace in fourth spot alongside countryman Maximilian Kieffer, overnight leader Sébastien Gros of France, Australia's Nick Cullen and England's Aaron Rai, who won a BMW i8 Roadster for a hole-in-one on the 16th.
US Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood squeaked over the cut line on four-over after a second successive 74, but The Island’s Paul McBride missed the cut by three strokes after a 75.
Stephanie in the red but Leona struggles in Michigan
On the Symetra Tour, Leona Maguire suffered her first reverse as a professional when she had to birdie the par-five 18th to open with a four-over 76 in the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass in Michigan.
After breaking 70 in her first six rounds in the professional ranks, finishing tied 15th on her LPGA Tour debut and tied third in her first Symetra Tour event, she followed a double bogey five at the third with bogeys at the fourth, 12th and 16th to be five over before getting a shot back at the last.
But Stephanie Meadow, fourth on the money list, opened with a two-under 70 to share 22nd, five shots behind Esther Lee who shot a seven-under 65.