Justin Rose fought off swirling winds and the effects of hayfever to shoot a three-under 68 at the Scottish Open and make headway on the leaders midway through the second round on Friday (local time).
While playing partner Lee Westwood shot 73 to likely miss the cut at three-over, Rose rolled in three birdies on the benign front nine and held on grimly coming back in to move to five-under-par overall.
That put the 2013 US Open champion two strokes behind overnight leader Rory McIlroy, who was among the afternoon starters at Royal Liverpool on seven-under.
"I came off a victory (on the PGA Tour) and didn't do much practice for whatever reason last week, so I came here and felt absolutely horrendous," Rose said. "The last couple of days I have been trying to find my feel again.
"I am beginning to click back into gear again and see some good shots."
Playing conditions appeared tougher than the first round, with the back nine playing into a stiff wind. Only eight of the first 50 finishers on Friday broke 70, making it the ideal trial ahead of next week's British Open at Hoylake.
Paul Waring of England shot the lowest score of the morning starters with a 66.
After admitting to needing an "adjustment period" to fully digest winning his first major at Merion, Rose returned to the winner's circle after more than a year at the Quicken Loans National in June.
That has given him some self-belief heading into the British Open - and so will a solid start in northern Scotland, despite struggling with hayfever for the last 12 days.
"So where I find myself after 36 holes, I'm delighted," said Rose, who pulled off a slew of clutch putts at the end to keep him on the leaderboard.
Westwood could find himself heading to Hoylake early, however, with the former world No 1 dropping three shots in his final six holes.
The Englishman, who has yet to win a major title, doesn't sound too confident about his Open chances, either.
"You can't contend at major tournaments hitting the way I'm hitting it," he said.
McIlroy set out a shot clear of Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden and Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina.
World No 1 Rory McIlroy is in hot form, but how many majors do you expect him to win?Related story: (See story)