Arjun Atwal fired a 7-under 63 on Friday to take the lead at the midway point of the McGladrey Classic at the Seaside Course.
Atwal, whose only tour win came two years ago, is one stroke clear of two of the main characters in the U.S. Ryder Cup loss three weeks ago, captain and this week's tournament host Davis Love III (66) and Jim Furyk (65).
The man likely to replace Love as American Ryder Cup captain, David Toms, shot a 3-under 67 and is tied for fourth place with first-round leader Bud Cauley (70) and Gavin Coles (65). The trio finished 36 holes at 8-under 132.
Atwal flew out of the gate on Friday. He started his round on the 10th tee and birdied that hole from close range. Atwal rolled in a 4-foot birdie putt at 11 and capped off his third birdie in a row with an 8-foot birdie at the 12th.
Atwal stumbled to a bogey at 14 when he missed the green and couldn't save par from five feet. He got back to 3-under for the round with a 7-foot birdie putt at the 17th.
On his second nine, Atwal once again played brilliantly at the beginning. He rolled in a 16-footer for birdie at one and then poured in a 13-footer for birdie at No. 2.
After a par at the third, Atwal sank a 20-foot birdie putt at four and made it two in a row with a 5-footer at the fifth. He was 10-under for the championship and parred his last four for the second-round lead.
"It was solid today," said Atwal. "Started with three in a row, and then yeah, just kept going. I felt really calm out there, and putter is starting to work. That was the missing link in the last few tournaments that I played."
Atwal needs a strong week.
At 175th on the money list, Atwal needs some big paychecks to earn his card for next year. After this week, there is only one more official PGA Tour event on the schedule.
"I'm in a desperate situation," acknowledged Atwal. "I got no choice to either win or finish in the top two, I think my caddie figured out. So I just gotta grind out."
Love mixed six birdies and two bogeys on Friday and is playing well in a tough position. Not only is he the tournament host, but Love is still stinging a bit from the historic U.S. loss at Medinah.
"I wouldn't say I've gotten everything out of the way," said Love. "I've hit the ball. But it's my home course and I kind of know my way around it, so hopefully I can keep it going."
Furyk sadly played a huge part in the Ryder Cup loss. He was 1-up against Sergio Garcia on the 17th tee and lost the final two holes to lose a critical full point.
Furyk, who was one of Love's captain's picks, hasn't played much since the Ryder Cup.
"I didn't really know what to expect," admitted Furyk, who was bogey-free on Friday. "I took a bunch of time off. I only played three rounds of golf in those two weeks, and I played well when I did play, but I felt a little rusty on the way in."
Michael Thompson (68), Brian Gay (68), D.J. Trahan (67), Chad Campbell (67), Mathew Goggin (66) and Greg Owen (69) are knotted in seventh place at 7-under 133.
NOTES: Defending champion Ben Crane made the cut on the number at 1-under par...Major champions John Daly and Todd Hamilton missed the weekend...Last week's Frys.com Open winner, Jonas Blixt, also finished at 1-under par...Marco Dawson, who shared the first-round lead with Cauley, struggled to a 5-over 75 and fell into a tie for 40th at minus-3.