Last Updated: 16/06/12 6:28pm
Tiger Woods will head into the weekend of the US Open in prime position to end his four-year quest for a 15th major title at the treacherous Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Woods bounced back from a run of three straight bogeys on the front nine to salvage a level-par 70 and earn a share of the lead with veterans Jim Furyk and David Toms at one-under-par.
(USA unless stated)
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The American trio are the only players under-par at the halfway stage as the firm and fast conditions at the Lake Course continued to take their toll on the field.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy crashed out as a 73 left him two outside the cut on 10-over, while world No 1 Luke Donald also packed his bags despite an improved 72 - his 79 on the first day leaving him too much to do.
Furyk, the 2003 champion, was first into the clubhouse after recovering from an opening bogey at the ninth with three birdies as he "plodded" his way to an impressive 69.
While overnight leader Michael Thompson slipped down the leaderboard after two double-bogeys in his first 10 holes, Woods claimed the overall lead on two-under after rolling in a slippery birdie putt at the third.
But he dropped three shots in a row from the fifth as his driving accuracy deserted him. However, he steadied the ship with a pair of pars before getting one shot back at the 10th.
"I think I'm in a good spot. You're just playing for a lot of pars. This is not a tournament where we have to make a bunch of birdies."
- Woods stays patient Quotes of the week
Woods carded his second two of the round at 13, and his battling qualities of old shone through over the closing stretch as he conjured up a series of clutch par saves from tricky positions.
"That was not easy," he said. "The course got dried out and the wind was swirling a little bit. It was really, really tough and I just had to stay as patient as possible.
"I think I'm in a good spot. This tournament, you just keep plodding along. You're just playing for a lot of pars. This is not a tournament where we have to make a bunch of birdies," added Woods, who insisted he finally feels comfortable with his latest swing changes.
He said: "It's been a very long time since my swing felt this good - don't forget I went through all of last year hurt and hadn't been able to practise. Now it's becoming more consistent, day-in and day-out."
Toms dropped shots at the first and sixth before getting them back at 11 and 13 and parring in to remain tied at the top, while Graeme McDowell leads the chasing pack at one-over.
But the 2010 champion cost himself the chance to lead outright when he bogeyed three of his last four holes to hand in a 72 and finish the day two off the pace.
Volvo World Match Play champion Nicolas Colsaerts returned a commendable three-birdie 69 to reach one over alongside McDowell, qualifier John Peterson (70) and Thompson, who birdie his last hole to rescue a 75.