Among those tied for second at 6-under-par 136 was none other then David Duval. Duval, who had been stuck in a lengthy slump since his British Open title in 2001 and has battled through positional vertigo in the process, shook his troubles aside and fired a course-record, 9-under-par 62.
Things didn't look so bright for Duval after the opening round when he stood at 3-over-par 74, but Friday was a different story. Duval played the back side first at the TPC at Avenel and picked up his first birdie of the day at the par-3 11th.
At the par-4 14th, Duval ran home the first of five consecutive birdies to make the turn at minus-6. He continued his run on the front side with a birdie at the third. Duval then added back-to-back birdies starting at the par-4 fifth to finish two shots off the lead.
'It goes without saying I haven't played particularly well for a year or so,' said Duval, who had missed seven consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour until tying for 64th at last week's Memorial Tournament. 'However, contrary to what people want to say, I have been working quite hard and haven't been able to put it together through the entire round.'
For Duval, the 62 was his best round on the PGA Tour since he fired a 59 at the Bob Hope in 1999.
'I didn't think about shooting 59,' said Duval. 'If anything in the future, I'd like to shoot 58. I've already shot 59.'
Duval was joined by Niclas Fasth, Notah Begay III and Tom Gillis in a tie for second.
Sabbatini had a stellar round of his own. Like Duval, he played the back nine first and collected his first birdie at the par-4 10th. Sabbatini then picked up back-to-back birdies starting at the par-5 13th to reach 6-under. He found trouble soon after, however, with two bogeys over his next four holes.
The South African recovered with a birdie at the first and went on a run of three consecutive birdies starting at the fifth to hold to his first 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour since the 1999 BellSouth Classic.
'Overall, I found the course actually played very easy for me,' said Sabbatini. 'I really haven't had much difficulty out there.'
Rich Beem, who captured this event in 1999 and finished second last season, collected three birdies and two bogeys for a round of 70. Beem was joined by Hal Sutton and Patrick Sheehan in a tie for sixth at 5-under-par 137.
Bernhard Langer, John Maginnes, Woody Austin, J.L. Lewis, Glen Hnatiuk, Charles Howell III, Brent Schwarzrock and Scott Laycock finished one shot further back at 4-under-par 138.
Defending champion Bob Estes carded a 1-under 70 to finish in a group at even-par 142.
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-over-par 144 with 78 players qualifying for the weekend. Several big names failed to make the grade including Phil Mickelson, Scott Hoch and John Daly.