South Africa's Ernie Els moved to within one stroke of Open leader Tiger Woods after a sparkling seven-under-par 65 at Hoylake on Friday.
Els carded a opening-round 68 on Thursday
Els fired seven birdies and no bogeys to move to 11 under going into the weekend, three ahead of compatriot Retief Goosen who shot a 66.
Adam Scott (69) is seven under, while fellow Aussie and US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy (69) is four under.
Fiji's world number three misses the weekend after a 76 left him two over.
Els, who won at Muirfield in 2002, followed three birdies on the front nine with four more coming home to close in on his great rival.
"It was a lot of fun out there, " said Els. "I felt quite comfortable with my swing and tried get it in play and when the opportunity arrived tried to be aggressive.
"I think I'm totally over the injury problems, I'm not subconsciously thinking about it in my swing.
At least I know I am good going out so I can put pressure early on Tiger
South Africa's Retief Goosen
"I just hope to keep it up. I'll be playing with the number one player in the world and it should be a lot of fun.
"Playing with Tiger you know there is going to be a big crowd and a lot of excitement.
"I just have to keep playing the golf course and the shots I know I can play and really forget about him."
World number four Goosen hopes his form over the front nine will help him close the gap on Woods.
"The front nine has been good to me so far - I'm nine under for it over the two rounds," said Goosen.
"I'm struggling on the back nine but at least I know I am good going out so I can put pressure early on Tiger."
Australian Scott is also refusing to give up the race for his first major, despite Woods' imposing lead.
"This course can bite anyone, even Tiger," he said.
"He's not foolproof, but he is obviously playing well and he has his eye in and we know how he goes when that happens for four days.
"My goal is to somehow get a couple back on him on Saturday and you never know what's going to happen on Sunday."
Argentina's Angel Cabrera returned a 68 to move to five under, alongside South Africa's Rory Sabbatini (70), Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant (68) and Australia's Robert Allenby (70).
Japan's Keiichiro Fukabori (73) is four under, as is Canada's 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, who handed in a level-par 72.
Five Australians are at four under - Mark Hensby (72), Rod Pampling (71), Peter Lonard (69), Brett Rumford (72) and Marcus Fraser (72).
South Africa's Tim Clark (69) is three under with New Zealand's 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell (71) and South Korea's SK Ho (73).
Australia's Aaron Baddeley missed the cut after a 76 left him on two over, as does compatriot Steve Elkington, whose 74 left him on one over.