The chasing pack were closing in on Australia’s Adam Scott as the second round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational unfolded.
Only one outside Tiger Woods' course record with his spectacular opening 62, the 31 year old reeled seven pars in a row on his return to the back nine and so was still only one in front of compatriot Jason Day, who was among the day's later starters.
Americans Ryan Moore and Rickie Fowler took over joint third spot on six under, while Scot Martin Laird and Swede Fredrik Jacobson were part of a group in joint fifth one further back.
Laird mixed three birdies with two bogeys in his first 13 holes and remained at the head of the European contingent.
Scott kept his par run going with a nine foot save on the 18th, but by then he had been caught at the top.
In a spectacular burst 22 year old Fowler, a Ryder Cup player already but yet to win as a professional, followed five birdies by holing his 109 yard pitch to the third for an eagle two.
It made him six under for the round and up from 18th to joint first.
Woods again came back from a bogey on the fourth with a birdie at the next, but then came the first double bogey of his comeback.
In the right rough off the tee at the sixth, he went into a bunker with his second, came out far too strongly and took three more from the fringe.
Now two over for the day, he was eight behind Scott, Moore and Fowler, who bogeyed the last for a 64 that contained an eagle, eight birdies and four dropped shots.
Laird was right in the thick of things again when he closed with a hat-trick of birdies for a 67 and seven under total that put him only one behind.