After knocking off a little rust in his first round of the 2018-’19 US PGA Tour season with an opening 71, Brooks Koepka looks like he’s back to the form that earned him Player of the Year honours in the 2017-’18 season. With a closing eagle on Friday at South Korea’s The Club at Nine Bridges, Koepka shot a seven-under 65 to move within one stroke of the lead at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.

Koepka trails only Scott Piercy, who shot a 65 of his own in the second round to take the 36-hole lead at nine-under 135. The three-time Major winner found only 10 of 14 fairways off the tee but hit 15 of 18 greens and needed just 27 putts. He got off to a quick start with four birdies on his first eight holes. While hooking his tee shot on the par-5 ninth hole out of play, he salvaged just a bogey, then made two more birdies coming in before rolling in a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th.

Besides merely wanting to get the new season off to a hot start, Koepka has added incentive to play well in Korea. A win or a solo second-place finish, so long as Justin Thomas doesn’t win, would boost Koepka from his current No.3 spot in the world ranking to No.1, seemingly the only accomplishment he hasn’t yet pulled off in 2018.

Piercy’s 65 was even more impressive than Koepka’s. The 39-year-old played bogey-free golf on Friday, hitting 13 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens while needing just 27 putts as well. This is the fourth time in Piercy’s US Tour career that he’s held the halfway lead, the most recent coming in 2017 at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

First-round leader Chez Reavie followed up his opening 68 with a two-under 70 to sit three strokes off the lead in third place. Cameron Smith rebounded with a second-round 67 to sit three-under overall as the leading Australian in a tie for 11th place at the tournament’s midpoint.

Defending CJ Cup champion Justin Thomas, who could also rise to world No.1 with a victory, improved off his opening 73 with a 70 on Friday, but is now eight strokes off the pace in a tie for 22nd.