Steven Bowditch soared up the leaderboard to give Australia another contender on a day of extreme weather at the British Open at St Andrews.
After a three-hour delay following overnight downpours and desperate work to mop up the famous links course, Bowditch picked up three shots on the field to climb to five under par for the championship.
He trailed English leader Danny Willett by five strokes, with ugly forecasts predicted to severely test the late-afternoon and early-evening starters, including first-round leader Dustin Johnson and Australian pacesetter Jason Day.
Cursing some wretched luck on the front nine, Bowditch made his big move on the more challenging inward stretch where most other players were going backwards.
The USPGA Tour star charged from two under to five under in the space of four holes with birdies on the 10th, 12th and 13th as more-celebrated countryman Adam Scott picked up two shots in his outward nine to move to four under, one back from Bowditch.
Matt Jones was also at four under before beginning his second round.
Geoff Ogilvy was two under after bouncing back from a bogey on the fourth with back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh holes.
A revitalised Day had been relishing the prospect of another weekend shootout with American heavyweights Jordan Spieth and Johnson after surging into major championship contention yet again with a flawless first-round 66.
Day rebounded in style from his untimely vertigo attack at last month’s US Open to be just one shot off the lead before Willett stormed to 10 under on Friday.
Day collected birdies on the second, fifth, sixth, 10th, 14th and 15th holes to steal the limelight from playing partner Tiger Woods, who slumped to a horror 76, his worst round as a professional at the Old Course the former world No.1 dominated to win the Open in 2000 and 2005.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of eyes on me. I just wanted to make sure I played solid out there,” Day said.
Before adjusted 6.10pm (3.10am AEST) tee time, Day was one behind Johnson and one ahead of Spieth, the two big guns he shared the lead with entering the final round at Chambers Bay three weeks ago.
But while he was heroic in ultimately finishing ninth despite his dramatic vertigo battles, Day hopes to be triumphant at the home of golf on Sunday now that he’s fit and healthy again.
“I feel good. I’m not thinking about falling over on my face again. It’s good,” he said.
“I’m not worrying about it.”
Day is more worried about renewing his major rivalry with Spieth and Johnson – and this time upstaging them as golf’s new-age stars dominate the leaderboard for the second major in a row.
Spieth denied the three-putting Johnson by a shot on the final day at Chambers Bay to add to his Masters jacket and the duo once more loom as the biggest threats to Day’s major ambitions.
“It’s kind of extended on from the US Open with Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth; where they are right now, so it’s going to be an exciting three days coming up,” Day said.