Australian veteran Brad Kennedy showed little signs of discomfort from the pain in his knee as he took a share of the halfway stage lead of the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup after firing a second successive four-under-par 66 on Friday.
The 48-year-old reached the 36-hole mark at eight-under-par 132 in the season-ending ¥130 million event, and was matched by Satoshi Kodaira who also returned a 66.
Defending champion Hideto Tanihara (67) and Aguri Iwasaki (68) were a further shot back where they are tied for the third spot.
American Chan Kim, who was joint-leader at the start of the day, slipped to tied 12th after battling to a 72 while Australia's Anthony Quayle and American Todd Baek's challenge seemed to be fast fading.
Quayle posted a 72 for tied 26th while Baek, who is nursing a shoulder injury, shot an improved 70 but still languish at lowly 29th in the 30-man standings.
Kennedy, who finished runner-up in the 2019 edition, gained five shots thanks to an eagle on the par-five sixth and three birdies. His only blemish was on the par-three eighth.
"It was a good solid day, I was more focused on taking care of my knee that I'm actually playing golf," said Kennedy.
"Getting around the course at the moment is pretty tough, pretty slow walking up and down the fairways pretty slowly. I got some acupuncture treatment, I don’t think there's any major damage.
"Nevertheless. I'm really happy to be where I am.
"I really enjoyed playing on this golf course, it gives you a lot of opportunities but you also have to be very careful at the same time.
"Course management is very important here."
Kodaira, meanwhile, overcame a slow start on his front-nine, to storm home with three birdies in his last five holes to keep himself in contention for his eighth win on the JGTO this week,
“I felt I played poorly in the front-nine with just one birdie on six. But in the back-nine, I managed to adjust the way I address the ball and was able to place my shots close to the pin. There was less pressure to make putts there and that helped. If I had started better, I believe my score today will be even lower,” said the Japanese.
When asked about his weekend goals, Kodaira said: “It’s still early and tight at the top. I don’t want to focus too much on the leaderboard. Instead, just play my own game.”
Leading second round scores:
(Japan unless stated)
132 - Brad Kennedy (Aus) 66-66, Satoshi Kodaira 66-66;
133 - Hideto Tanihara 66-67, Aguri Iwasaki 65-68;
134 - Hiroshi Iwata 68-66, Yuki Inamori 65-69;
135 - Riki Kawamoto 68-67;
136 - Ryo Ishikawa 68-68, Yuto Katsuragawa 67-69, Rikuya Hoshino 67-69, Daijiro Izumida 66-70.