SAN FRANCISCO • On a day when world No. 1 Dustin Johnson claimed that he is nearly back to his best, four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy had a meltdown after he four-putted from six feet.
Johnson avoided any similar mishaps to move into the halfway lead at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California on Friday.
He birdied his first three holes to set a strong base for a seven-under 64 second round on the Monterey Peninsula course, one of three used for the event.
Johnson, who won the opening event of the year at Kapalua in Hawaii on a course that suited his long-hitting game, said his form is close to where it was at this stage last year, when he was about to embark on a stretch of three successive victories.
"I don't know if it's quite as good as it was during that stretch," he said. "That was probably some of the best golf I've played in my career, but parts of the game are just as good.
"I would say that I'm driving it well, but I'm probably not quite as good as I was when on those three wins, but everything else feels like it's really good."
His compatriot Beau Hossler, a PGA Tour rookie, had a bogey-free 67 at Spyglass Hill, joining Johnson at 12 under, though Johnson has a lower total, 131 against Hossler's 132.
Monterey Peninsula is a par-71, while Spyglass and the host Pebble Beach courses are par-72 layouts.
Fellow Americans Troy Merritt (67) and Julian Suri (67) are at 10 under, while Jon Rahm (67), Phil Mickelson (65) and Australia's Jason Day (65) are among a formidable group at nine under.
McIlroy will have some work ahead to make the 54-hole cut after a 74 at Monterey that included a staggering double-bogey at the par-four fifth.
After almost driving the green, the Northern Irishman used his putter from the fringe and stroked the ball to within six feet of the cup, from where he took four putts and probably ended his hopes in the tournament in a matter of seconds.
He is at one under heading to his third round at Pebble.
AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM Day 4:
StarHub Ch204, tomorrow, 2am