Patience is a virtue at Augusta National and it doubly rewarded Shane Lowry and Justin Rose as they recovered from slow starts to keep their Masters hopes very much alive on a day of hot scoring in steamy Georgia.
With the greens a shade softer and slower and the pin positions fractionally more accessible, the scoring average was three shots lower than on day one as the birdies flew and the chasing pack closed in on the leaders.
Rose's four-shot overnight lead disappeared as he lurched to the turn in three-over 39 before drawing on his vast experience to come home in 33 and card a level-par 72 that left him where he started the day on seven under par.
But so hot was the scoring that the English veteran had just a two-stroke lead over Australian Marc Leishman (67) and hot favourite Jordan Spieth (68) with Austria's Bernd Wiesberger (66), Tony Finau (66) and Justin Thomas (67) lurking a shot further back on four under.
For Rory McIlroy, though, the misery continued, as he faced a huge battle to stay around for the last two days.
With nine holes of his second round gone he had limped to six over, three behind the projected cut, a far cry from his Ryder Cup colleague Rose.
"My mindset today was to be free, to go out there and play as free of golf as I could because I felt that having the opportunity to play with a lead from day one could play in my favour come Sunday. You get used to it," the Englishman said.
Admitting he faced an agonising wait for his round to turn around and the birdies to flow, he added: "I was waiting for sure, but it seemed a little more elusive today, no doubt. I was joking, the finger was heading towards the panic button a little bit.
"I had a little talk with myself on eight and said, 'You're still leading The Masters', and I just changed my mindset a little bit and started to play match play against the golf course.
"I scratched a line on my scorecard and told myself I was three down and could I go ahead and beat the golf course from that point on. I had a putt on 18 to win my match one-up, but unfortunately it just slipped by. But an honourable draw."
Lowry (34) is playing in only his sixth Masters but after starting double bogey, bogey following back-to-back three-putts and then soaring to four over for the day with seven holes to play, he showed his maturity by playing his last seven holes in three under par to chisel out a one-over 73 that left him inside the top 30 on level par.
He will be upset to take 32 putts, but he also knows he is still well in the hunt.
At the opening hole, he hit a perfect drive down the middle but took dead aim at the pin with his 132-yard approach and missed the green on the left.
Facing a tough recovery to a pin set 6ft above him, his pitch stopped 25ft short and after a tentative first putt, he three-putted for a costly double bogey.
He three-putted again from 30ft at the par-five second before a trademark 60-yard pitch to 2ft at the third set up an easy birdie.
He then made a great sand save at the 240-yard fourth, rolling in a nine-footer to remain one over for the tournament and while he came up short with his approach to the seventh and dropped another shot to turn in 39, he did not panic when he was blocked out by the trees at the 11th and dropped another shot to slip perilously close to the cut line on three over.
Remaining patient, he recovered with two birdies in a row, knocking in a 12-footer at the short 12th before getting up and down in outrageous fashion at the 13th, where his lightning fast, downhill bunker shot finished just a few inches short of dropping for eagle.
He safely parred the next three holes and while he was unlucky his cut up approach to the 17th left him a near impossible eight-footer, he made amends at the last, stiffing his 150-yard approach to set up a closing birdie before turfing the divot back at caddie Bo Martin.
It was an equally tough start to the day for Rose, who lacked the brilliant control of Thursday and made four bogeys and a birdie in his first seven holes to see his four-shot overnight lead reduced to just one stroke.
But like Lowry, the 2013 US Open champion knew there were birdies to be gleaned on the back nine and after finding some rhythm, reeling off regulation pars at the 10th, 11th and 12th, he set to work.
Following a two-putt birdie at the 13th, he allowed himself a smile as a left-to-right breaking 25-footer tracked perfectly into the cup, then made up for failing to take advantage of a 325-yard drive down the 15th by rolling in a 20-footer for a two at the 16th.
After opening up a four-shot lead with that opening 65, Rose admitted he allowed himself to wonder what the winning score might be before concentrating instead on executing his shots.
"It did cross my mind yesterday," Rose said. "I said, 'I wonder if I shot three 70s after yesterday if that would be good enough?' You can see the leaderboard and who is stacking up behind, and I feel like there's a lot of firepower there where you can't ever really hold anyone back to a number here at Augusta National."