Rory McIlroy was "ecstatic" after continuing his fightback from a woeful start at The Open by moving firmly into contention with a second-round 68 at Royal Birkdale.
The prospect of McIlroy contending for a second Claret Jug appeared remote when he bogeyed five of the first six holes on Thursday.
However, the four-time major winner rallied to shoot 71 in round one and then stormed out of the blocks on Friday with birdies at the first, third and sixth.
McIlroy ultimately reached the clubhouse on one under for the tournament, with only Zach Johnson (66) having bettered his second-day score among the morning starters, as wind made low scoring extremely tough.
"I'm very happy," said McIlroy, who found himself four off the lead when he holed out on the 18th.
"I think anything around even par today is going to be a great score. That was right up there with my best Open rounds.
"It was really tough out there. I hit some real quality shots. That was right up there with my best Open rounds." pic.twitter.com/WQPN4xxOGG-- The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 21, 2017
"I got off to a good start, which I think is important. The back nine is playing really, really difficult. So to birdie three of the first six and give myself that little bit of a cushion to play with was nice.
"I made some key up-and-downs on the start of the back nine. To be in after two days and be under par for this championship after the way I started, I'm ecstatic with that.
"There was a lot of quality out there and I was happy to see that. I just have to try to keep that going for the next two days."
"I set myself a target of being in a better position today than I was yesterday. I wanted to be at least level par or under par if possible for the championship. And I've been able to achieve that goal that I set myself.
"They're both huge rounds for very different reasons. But this was definitely the round that got me back into the championship."
McIlroy was not planning to spend too much time seeing how the afternoon wave fared in the wind.
He added: "I'll watch a little bit of the golf. But I've battled enough and I've thought about golf enough today that I don't really need to see those guys out there. But I'll keep an eye on the leaderboard.
"I'm happy to be in the clubhouse and happy to be on a good score."