Jason Day has shown promising signs with a blistering second round to be tied third in the US PGA Tour's The American Express tournament in California.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the 35-year-old Australian former world No.1 fired a flawless eight-under-par 64 on Friday.
Swing changes to ease strain on his problematic back were clicking as he included six birdies and an eagle on the Pete Dye Stadium course - one of three courses in use for the event - to get to 13 under.
Day is five shots behind the leader, American rookie Davis Thompson, who followed his opening 62 with a 64 at the Nicklaus Tournament Course to be two strokes clear of world No.4 Jon Rahm (64).
Day is tied with Tom Kim (62), J.T. Poston (66), Sungjae Im (66) and Tyler Duncan (67).
"The body is almost there. It's more so the swing now," said Day, who is ranked No.115 these days and claimed the last of his 12 US Tour wins back in 2018.
"It's more swing-related stuff, really cementing the changes in. That way I can just go out there and see a pin and just hit at it.
"Instead of focusing on a few key areas where I actually have to focus on to be able to create or hit a shot.
"So really, really close."
The 23-year-old Thompson made three more eagles on Friday for a total of five through 36 holes to tie the PGA Tour record for the most in a 72-hole tournament since 1983.
"I just had some good numbers into par-5s and was able to execute my shots," Thompson said. "I had some putts drop. So it was nice to make some eagles."
Rahm, who won the Tournament of Champions two weeks ago at Kapalua, matched his score from a day earlier at La Quinta.
"Feeling great. Lot of confidence," Rahm said. "Having essentially the hardest course two days in a row, but I'm in a really good position. So hopefully I can keep the good game going."
Second-ranked Scottie Scheffler and sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele were in a group of five at 11 under that also included Justin Rose.
World No.5 Patrick Cantlay was in a group of seven at 10 under while No.7 Will Zalatoris was at 6 under.
Harrison Endycott is the best of the other Australians at tied 34th at eight under after a 71 at La Quinta, with Aaron Baddeley (68) a further three shots back and Cam Davis a distant tied 120th after a 71.
with The AP