Defending champion Tiger Woods was poised to take command of the British Open on Friday producing all his old style and panache in a low-scoring second round.
Woods started the day tied for second at five-under par and a missed 12-footer saw him drop a stroke at the third.
But in ideal playing conditions at the Royal Liverpool links course, the 30-year-old American bounced back in ominous fashion with birdies at the next two holes.
A monster putt for another birdie at the eighth was followed by a tap-in birdie at the par-five 10th and a 15-foot putt at the 11th as he moved to nine under and the outright lead in the tournament.
It was the surest sign yet that Woods has emerged from the period of mourning and self-analysis that followed the death from cancer of his father Earl in May.
The world No.1 took nine weeks off before and after his father's death, only returning in late June when the unspeakable happened and he missed the cut at the US Open.
But he said coming into Hoylake that he has now come to terms with the bereavement and it certainly looked that way on Saturday.
Woods though was not the only American in action early on Friday who was trying to get over a family tragedy.
His old Masters adversary Chris di Marco lost his mother last month and in similar fashion he managed to put that to the back of his mind going out in three-under 32.
He birdied the next two holes to take the tournament lead on eight under-par only for Woods, playing four groups later, to draw level shortly after. Di Marco birdied again at the 15th to join Woods at nine-under.
The two Americans at that stage held a three-stroke lead over a group of five players - Australia's Adam Scott, England's Robert Rock, Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, South African Retief Goosen and first round leader Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.
Jimenez had earlier gone four strokes clear of the field. Starting the day in joint second position after an opening five-under 67, he wasted no time in closing the one-stroke overnight lead of McDowell by birdieing the opening hole.
Europe's most prolific winner in 2004 kept up his charge with a second birdie at the fourth and then, on the next hole, he brought a roar from the big galleries swarming into the historic Hoylake links by sinking a 15-footer for eagle-three.
Jimenez was at nine-under, four strokes clear of the field at that stage, but bogeys at the seventh, eighth and 11th pegged him back to six-under.
McDowell, who learned his golf playing at the Royal Portrush course over the Irish Sea, bogeyed the first after finding the rough with his driver, but stayed at five under with a run of eight following pars, before a birdie at the 10th put him back to where he started.
English duo Anthony Wall and Greg Owen, who had shared second place overnight with Woods and Jimenez were not due out until later in the afternoon.
A further stroke back on 68 was a large group which included big guns Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk, all of them had yet to tee off in their second rounds.