Matt Every, who was suspended by the PGA Tour in 2010 for three months after being arrested on drug charges, birdied his last three holes to move two strokes clear in Friday`s second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
The 28-year-old American fired a flawless six-under-par 64 at a breezy Waialae Country Club for a 10-under total of 130 and the early lead in the first full-field event of the season on the U.S. circuit.
Every, who has played most of his professional golf on the second-tier Nationwide Tour, covered his back nine in five-under 30 to finish two ahead of Canada`s David Hearn (66).
Zimbabwe`s Brendon de Jonge, who carded a best-of-the-week 62, was a further stroke back at seven-under with American Pat Perez (67).
"I just stayed patient and I made some putts that didn`t fall on the front (nine)," Every told reporters after his six-birdie display on the palm tree-fringed layout.
"Things are just working out right now but it`s only two days and I`ve got two more to go."
Every made only five PGA Tour starts last year, having hit the headlines in 2010 during his rookie season after being arrested in an Iowa hotel on a misdemeanor marijuana charge.
In a statement issued at the time, he denied possessing the drug but apologised for his poor judgment. He was later suspended for 90 days by the PGA Tour.
"I don`t think I was doing anything wrong, but it happened," Every told the Golf Channel on Friday. "I am the same person, I have the same friends. I don`t think it`s that big a deal.
"There`s a lot worse stuff that goes on out here than what I got in trouble for."
While Every rocketed to the top of the leaderboard on Friday, first-round leader Graham DeLaet of Canada was heading the other way.
After opening with a blistering 63, DeLaet was three-over for the second round after eight holes and six strokes off the pace.
American world number five Steve Stricker, who clinched the PGA Tour`s season-opening Tournament of Champions at Kapalua on Monday, briefly held a share of the lead at seven-under before slipping to five-under after carding a 69.
Stricker is aiming to become the first player since South African Ernie Els in 2003 to win the first two events of the year in Hawaii.
The cut was projected to fall at one-under 139 with defending champion Mark Wilson and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III among those likely to miss out.