Rory McIlroy moved into a five-way share of the lead at the halfway mark in the Open de France with a sublime five-under second round of 66 on Friday.
The four-time major champion said his new swing was "a work in progress" after starting his first tournament since missing the cut at the U.S. Open with a 71 in Paris, but showed his class to surge up the leaderboad in ominous fashion a day later.
McIlroy put on an exhibition at Le Golf National's remodelled Albatros course, where the world number four's only blemish came when he made his solitary bogey at the 18th after finding the water.
The Northern Irishman played some majestic approach shots, making four birdies to hit the turn in 32 and a further two on the back nine to go out in front on his own before his error from the tee at the last.
"I putted well today but there were even a few more left out there. But I've put myself in a good position and we will give it a good go over the weekend." said McIlroy, eyeing his second title of the year after winning the Irish Open last month.
Mikko Ilonen, Thongchai Jaidee, Brandon Stone and Jeunghun Wang also head into the weekend tied for the lead on five under in the 100th edition of the European Tour event.
Wang already has two victories to his name this season and the South Korean is firmly in contention for another following a magnificent 66 of his own, finishing his second round in style with a sixth birdie at 18.
Ilonen and Stone gave themselves a great chance of earning one of the four places in The Open which are up for grabs this weekend by carding three-under second rounds of 68, while Jaidee went round in 70.
Lucas Bjerregaard led by one shot after the first round but slipped back to two under with a 74, while defending champion Bernd Wiesberger is well poised just a shot off the lead along with Anders Hansen and Nicolas Colsaerts.
Paul Dunne made a hole in one at the 198-yard par-three eighth, but the Irishman might want to crack open the bottle of champagne he earned for that feat after missing the cut.