Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Spieth bared their teeth in round two of The Open as Zach Johnson snared a share of the lead with Kevin Kisner.
The calm, baked conditions that have swarmed Carnoustie this week were initially replaced by heavy downpours more associated with the Championship before reverting to the week's type later in the day.
Fleetwood set the tone for the early starters battling the elements to score a six-under 65, the lowest of the week, and move to five under for the tournament, just one back of the leaders and level with Pat Perez and Xander Schauffele.
McIlroy is just one stroke further back having at one stage also reached five under, as Matt Kuchar – who sank a lengthy putt at the last - joined the Northern Irishman, Erik van Rooyen, Tony Finau and Zander Lombard at four under.
Johnson put the pressure on Kisner with four-under 67. His American compatriot initially responded and was eight under before an untimely dip in the Barry Burn at the last saw him fall back to six.
As the conditions continued to dry, defending champion Spieth – who started the day one over after dropping four shots in four holes down the stretch on Thursday – shot a 67 that left him three back in a group with Kevin Chappell and Rickie Fowler.
While there are plenty of big names in the hunt to be named Champion Golfer for 2018, three of the world's top five are heading home after Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm missed the cut, while only a birdie at the last saw Justin Rose – ranked third – make the weekend.
The round of the day belonged to Fleetwood, whose putter was striking hot and a birdie at four set him on the way before a 15-footer with the flat stick for another gain at the fifth preceded a couple of momentum-building par saves.
He picked up shots at 11 and 14 followed before the grandstand rose to their feet at 18 when Fleetwood rolled in sixth birdie.
McIlroy's accurate approach work yielded birdies at the seventh and 10th and, despite dropping a shot at 12, he was five under with gains at the 13th and 14th.
A bogey at 15 undid some of that work, but he scrambled down the stretch to leave himself well in contention.
Zach Johnson, the 2015 champion, again showed his affinity for links golf. Two birdies on the front nine did not do justice to the quality of his play, but he drained a putt at 14 for a third gain before rounding out with a fine 18-footer for birdie at the last. Kisner initially continued his fine work from round one and five birdies coupled with two bogeys meant he was eight under coming down the last.
But a wayward tee shot was followed by an undercooked eight iron out of the rough that found the treacherous Barry Burn en route to double bogey.
A bit of magic from Spieth with a chip-in birdie at the third was the precursor for a trademark surge up the leaderboard.
Three birdies in the space of five holes between the 10th and 14th really had the American rolling, before a solitary bogey at 16 left him three off the leaders.
|LaLiga 2018-19: Bale or Griezmann - Who will step into Ronaldo´s breach as Messi´s main rival?|
|Woods winning 15th major would be greatest comeback in sport – Faldo|
|Retiring Storm great Hoffman not giving up on Finals dream|
|Folau won´t change aerial approach in All Blacks showdown|
|Racism behind Sterling criticism, says ex-Arsenal star Wright|
|Eto´o joins Qatar SC following Ligue 1 links|
|UEFA Super Cup 2018-19: Atletico academy eclipsing Madrid, La Masia|
|UEFA Super Cup 2018-19: Should Real Madrid cash in on Modric?|
|Scintillating Serena sends warning, Azarenka survives opener|
|DeGrom strikes out 12, Mets hit 5 homers in win over Yankees|
|Djokovic needs nine MPs as Murray crashes out|
|Murray unsure of US Open readiness after Cincinnati exit|
|Van Dijk: Alisson making difference at Liverpool|
|Johnson saves eight MPs but Djokovic prevails|
|Federer anxious ahead of Cincinnati comeback|
|Tevez relishing Messi reunion|
|Ronaldo arrival has taken Juve forward in Europe – Nedved|
|Serena steamrolls Gavrilova in Cincinnati return|
|Packers QB Rodgers doesn´t regret criticising team-mates|
|Indians OF Martin recovering from life-threatening bacterial infection|
|Shoulder injury sends Royals starter Duffy to DL|
|Yankees place Sabathia on DL with right knee inflammation|
|Aubameyang urges Emery to capitalise on his ´spark´ with Lacazette|
|Anderson can play until he´s 40, says Bayliss|
|Keita living childhood dream after securing Inter switch|
|49ers to sign veteran RB Alfred Morris, Kyle Shanahan says|
|Arnaiz leaves Barcelona for Leganes in €5m deal|
|Tottenham´s move to new stadium delayed|
|Roosters-bound Hall suffers ACL injury|
|Murray suffers Cincinnati defeat to Pouille|
|No Cech mate - Arsenal goalkeeper hits back at Bayer Leverkusen|
|Halep first to seal WTA Finals spot|
|Veteran Carmelo Anthony pens one-year Rockets deal|
|Runners and Ryders: Poulter closes in on Team Europe spot|
|Gameiro presented by Valencia after departing Atletico Madrid|
|World Cup winner Kimpembe extends PSG contract to 2023|
|AC Milan send Locatelli on loan to Sassuolo|
|South Africa´s Etzebeth set for return from injury|
|Rafinha ´very likely´ to stay at Barcelona|
|No dual Ryder Cup role should Woods make USA team, says Furyk|
|Inter complete Keita deal|
|David Silva announces retirement from international football|
|Modric in Real Madrid´s UEFA Super Cup squad amid Inter links|
|Neville hopes Shaw is on to something special after first United goal|
|Unchanged England waiting on Stokes verdict|
|Yates brothers to race Vuelta together|
|Kalinic explains why he rejected World Cup medal|
|Furyk excited to see Woods´ return to form|
|Liverpool ignoring media´s champions chat, says Van Dijk|
|Suspended Smith replaces Kohli as top-ranked Test batsman|
|Tiger fanfare inevitable but it´s time to recognise Koepka as the star he is|
|Dier: Tottenham will shut up transfer critics|
|Fernandes leaves West Ham for Fiorentina on loan|
|´No chance´ Willian would have stayed at Chelsea under Conte|
|Vettel confident he can catch Hamilton|
|Cane dismisses talk of All Blacks limiting haka|
|Zaha promises Palace commitment as contract talks continue|
|Real Madrid defender Odriozola to miss UEFA Super Cup|
|All Blacks wary of Pocock threat|
|Bayern Munich confirm no ligament damage for Alaba|
|Nicklaus hails Koepka´s great year after US PGA triumph|
|Keita ready to ´explode´ at Inter|
|Halep: Stephens makes me a better player|
|Manchester United loan Wilson to Aberdeen|
|Beale backs Hodge to start in Rugby Championship opener|
|Bakayoko arrives for AC Milan medical|
|Australia favourites for Rugby Championship opener, says Hansen|
|Muller hails Lewandowski: That´s why Bayern won´t let him go|
|Allegri eyes Champions League after watching Ronaldo score first Juventus goal|
|LaLiga 2018-19: Barcelona or Real Madrid - whose close-season transfers have been better?|