Hawaii - American Ryan Palmer closed with three birdies in his last four holes Friday to shoot a four-under-par 66 and take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the PGA Sony Open.
Palmer helped cap his round with a monster drive on the par-five 18th hole to finish at nine-under 131 in the 5.5 million dollar Hawaii tournament.
Palmer, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, said the key for him is to not let his emotions get carried away.
"I'm not going to sit here and say I'm not going to think about being in the lead," he said. "Who doesn't think about it when they tee off on Saturday in the final group? I'll just go play golf and see what happens."
Defending champion Zach Johnson, Robert Allenby and Chad Campbell shared second place at eight-under 132.
Aussie Allenby and Johnson, of the US, were part of a group of six first round leaders. They both shot three-under 67 Friday while Campbell fired a superb 64.
Allenby, who sprained an ankle on Monday, is coming off two consecutive wins in Australia and South Africa.
"I'm managing my way around the golf course," said Allenby, of Melbourne. "When you feel good, you play a little more aggressively. Now I'm backing off a little bit, hitting into little areas, hoping to make up-and-down or hit it close. I've still got the confidence I could win the tournament."
Seventeen players were separated by four shots going into the final two rounds.
Steve Stricker had a 67 and was joined in the group at seven-under 133 by John Merrick (68) and Jeff Quinney (67).
Another shot back was American Davis Love and Masters champion Angel Cabrera (68). Paul Goydos had a tournament-low 63 and was in the group at 135.
Fijian-Indian Vijay Singh shot 72 and made the cut on the number.
Among those that missed the cut were American John Daly (71) and 19-year-old Japanese star Tadd Fujikawa. He was straddling the cut line when he hit into a canal and then bonked a tree for double bogey on the par-five ninth hole.
Rising star Rickie Fowler shot 75-72 and also missed the cut.