Justin Rose went from "absolutely horrendous" on Wednesday to clubhouse leader on Friday in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Rose carded a second round of 68 at Royal Aberdeen to set the early target of five under par, but playing partner Lee Westwood was set to miss the cut a week ahead of the Open after a 73 left him three over par.
The 41-year-old took a two-shot lead into the final round at Muirfield 12 months ago but eventually finished third behind Phil Mickelson.
Rose, who has missed the cut in three of the last four Opens, said: "I came here on Wednesday and felt absolutely horrendous. It was like I had lost my game somewhere over the Atlantic.
"But the last couple of days I have been finding my feet again and that's part of the reason for playing this week ahead of Hoylake."
Winds gusting up to 20mph had made scoring difficult on the front nine on Thursday, with former world number one Westwood not the only player to need 40 shots to get to the turn.
But with no wind to speak of on Friday it was a different story for the likes of Rose and Scotland's Peter Whiteford, who raced to the turn in 31 with birdies at the second, fifth and eighth and an eagle on the sixth.
"It was great to see the course in a completely opposite wind. You had to make your score on the front nine rather than hanging on and I'm pretty pleased to get it round in 68," said Rose, who fired four birdies and one bogey.
"The par fives are playing very easy on the front nine and there are some tough par fours on the back nine. I did well to hang on to my score on the back nine and made a few good six or seven-footers coming in."
Six-time major winner Nick Faldo had threatened to outscore Rose when he birdied the fourth and fifth and holed from 40 feet for an eagle on the sixth, but the 56-year-old dropped four shots in five holes from the eighth and eventually carded a second consecutive 73 to finish four over par.
"I played nicely on the easy holes downwind, then I made a couple of bad swings and it just scared me," said Faldo, who spends most of his time as a television analyst in America but will also compete at Hoylake next week. "I didn't know what to do for a while.
"I was going nicely, inside the cut line, but then I made a mess of it. Simple as that. I'm here on curiousity, that's my bottom line. I have a really good day job. I'm just curious to see how I can play this game."