Rory McIlroy looks primed to have the 36-hole lead at the BMW Championship in Wentworth after a second round 65.
The 2014 champion missed chances from inside 10 feet on each of the first three holes at Wentworth before a well-judged pitch on the par-five fourth set up a first birdie of the day.
McIlroy, whose record at Wentworth includes four missed cuts as well as a victory, began to find his touch on the greens and moved into the lead with a birdie on the seventh.
He then followed it up with a superb approach at the ninth, which yielded a birdie just before the turn.
McIlroy, whose win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this season was his first since September 2016, made it three birdies in a row following a superb tee shot on the 14th.
Putting on a ball-striking exhibition 👌🏼 pic.twitter.com/jq6EJ4ENHM— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 25, 2018
A fourth in succession looked unlikely when he missed the 15th fairway and his approach finished around 35 feet from the hole, but the birdie putt never looked like missing.
That took the 29-year-old to seven under for the day and left him needing to birdie the last three holes to match Noren's course record of 62, which was set in the final round last year.
McIlroy was unable to birdie the 16th or 17th and had to settle for another par on the 18th after his approach to the par five plugged in a greenside bunker.
McIlroy leads by three from England's Sam Horsfield, who is on nine-under, England's Tommy Fleetwood is on eight-under, while defending champion Alex Noren is tied third on seven-under alongside Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and England's Robert Rock.
Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell posted an excellent round of his own, the Ryder Cup vice captain carding a second round 67 to lie six-under par, while Shane Lowry easily made the cut at four-under, however Paul Dunne had a disappointing second round and missed the cut.