Vijay Singh surged into the halfway lead of the WGC - Bridgestone Invitational while fellow European Tour Member Lee Westwood is hot on his heels and credited his strong US Open finish at Torrey Pines for helping him get there.
Westwood shot a five under par, best of the day 65 at the Firestone Country Club, Ohio to lie two shots behind halfway leader Singh, with Phil Mickelson separating them at six under.
The Englishman said his third place at Torrey Pines six weeks ago, when he finished a shot behind eventual Champion Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, had served as a big morale boost.
“I've taken a lot of confidence from that,” Westwood said. “It's not going to get any more pressurised or there's not going to be more going on than playing in the last round of the US Open with Tiger, everything that was going on with his knee and trying to win the tournament, as well.
“I tried to carry on that confidence that I built up there into this event.
“Obviously this is a golf course I've played well on in the past.
“I've shot 63 around here and I think I hold the lowest score for the back nine. It's just a golf course that I stand on and a lot of shots suit my eye.
“I know there's a lot of crosswinds out there, but they don't seem to worry me too much, either. In some ways I always look forward to coming and playing. Obviously with no cut, as well, this week you can really sort of go out there and take the reins off and play freely.”
Singh, in the last group of the day to tee off on the tenth hole, stormed into the lead with a second-round, four under par 66 that contained five birdies and a bogey.
Starting almost five hours before the Fijian, World Number Two Mickelson was first out on the par 70, 7,400 yard South Course and immediately set about chasing down Retief Goosen’s four under par overnight lead.
Mickelson had trailed Goosen by two strokes and began with a birdie at the tenth and another at the par four 14th saw him draw level with the South African at four under as he reached the turn in 33.
Then the left-hander moved up a gear, with birdies at the second and third holes to move clear by two shots after 12 holes, and with a bogey at the eighth negating a birdie at the previous hole, Mickelson checked out with a round of 66 to lead at six under par.
“It's been a good first two days,” Mickelson said. “I love the course, and I love the way it's been set up. I love the opportunity to get our games ready and sharp for next week going into the PGA. But this is an awesome event, and I'm excited that I put myself in a good position heading into the weekend.”
Joining Westwood in the clubhouse on five under, one shot back on Mickelson were Zach Johnson, Sean O’Hair and Peter Lonard of Australia with his compatriot Stuart Appleby at four under for the tournament following a 66.
Also at four under were European Tour member Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, Americans DJ Trahan and Stewart Cink and South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini.