(CNN) -- Brian Gay leads a revitalized Todd Hamilton by a shot at the halfway stage of the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head Island after a second round five-under-par 66.
Gary lines up a putt during his second round 66 on the Sea Pines course.
Gay carded five straight birdies on the front nine to charge to the head of affairs with fellow American Hamilton, the former British Open champion who challenged at the Masters before finishing 15th, also shooting a 66.
Hamilton's five-year PGA Tour exemption from his major win in 2004 runs out at the end of the season and after missing seven cuts in nine tournaments came to life to feature on the leader board at Augusta.
First round leader Alex Cejka of Germany followed his first round 64 with a level- par 71 to be tied two back on seven-under with former U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, whose 70 included a hole-in-one at the 17th.
"The front nine was awesome, I got hot with the putter and made five in a row there on the front and played real solid on the back," Gay told official Tour Web site www.pgatour.com.
Gary, who had a maiden win on the tour last year, said conditions were difficult. "The wind was tough and swirling a lot, and I hit a lot of tough shots, I was just lucky to get it close to the hole," he added.
Two-time defending champion and Ryder Cup hero Boo Weekley is eight back after a two over 73.
New Masters champion Angel Cabrera and world number one and two Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are sitting out the tournament in South Carolina.