Twenty-six players are within five strokes of the lead, held by Davis Love III.
Love is the only player under par through 36 holes. Hes at 1-under-par 141 following a 1-over 72 Friday afternoon.
The list of challengers is as eclectic as the fairway bounces are unpredictable.
Thomas Bjorn, who had a quadruple-bogey 8 in the first round when he received a two-stroke penalty after slamming his club in a bunker, is tied with S.K. Ho for second place at 1-over-par 143. Bjorn shot 70; Ho had a 73.
Last years playoff loser Thomas Levet (73), Sergio Garcia (72), PGA Tour rookie Ben Curtis (72), Kenny Perry (70), overnight leader Hennie Otto (76), Scotlands Alastair Forsyth (70) and Paraguayan Marco Ruiz (71) are all three back.
Players seesawed up and down the leaderboard Friday.
Love had the best chance to create some distance between he and the field. He took a three-shot lead, at 4-under, but was unable to sustain the progression. Love bogeyed three of his final seven holes.
All in all, I guess its a good day, said Love, who is looking to add to his three wins this season. Too many 5s, obviously, on the card on the back nine, but it just got tougher and tougher. The wind never let up, and the greens got firmer and faster as we went along.
And some of the hardest pin placements Ive ever seen, he added. Ive never seen pins so hard.
Love was one of several players to complain about the difficulty of the pin locations in Round 2.
They were the toughest pin positions I have ever seen in this tournament, said U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, who shot 78 to miss the cut with a 10-over total. The pin placements were in some particularly awkward and difficult positions. They set them up on the side of humps and on top of humps.
'I would just assume the pin placements would be tougher (over the weekend), and I think par will still be a great score,' said Perry, who has won three times in his last four starts, and is competing in just his second Open Championship.
Seventy-five players made the cut, which fell at 8-over-par 150.
Those still in contention include Tiger Woods (72) and Vijay Singh (70) at 3-over, and defending champion Ernie Els (68), 1994 winner Nick Price (72) and Phil Mickelson (72) at 4-over.
Els started the day 10 off the lead after an opening 78, but cut his deficit in half thanks to a little encouragement from his daughter, Samantha.
My little girl gave me a little pat last night and wished me good luck this morning. I guess it worked, said Els, who shot the low round of the day.
While Els experienced a 10-shot difference between his first two rounds, so too did Greg Norman. The winner the last time the Open was contested at Royal St. Georges, in 1993, Norman fell from one shot off the lead after a 69 to nearer the cutline after a 79.
'Anybody who made the cut right now has a chance to win this golf tournament,' said Norman. 'All you have to do is shoot a pair of 67s and that puts you at even par, and even par is a shoe-in to win this golf tournament given the way the conditions are.'
It could have been better for Love, but it could have been much worse were it not for a couple of good bounces.
Loves tee shot on the par-5 14th was headed out of bounds right until it struck a post and kicked back into play ' by two feet.
I dont know how that happened, Love said. Were all going to get crazy bounces in this championship.
He made par there, as he did at the last. Love missed the green left and then pitched his third shot on the par-4 18th some 20 feet right of the hole. It got the perfect kick and took the proper break, grazing the edge of the cup.
It was reminiscent of the final round in the 1999 Masters, when Love pitched in on the par-3 16th after deliberately aiming away from the hole.
It took a lot of nerve for me to hit it up there, he said. Again, youve got to play the bounces. And it bounced good for me.
Unlike the U.S. Open, where a European-born player hasnt won since Tony Jacklin in 1970, Americans have almost sipped exclusively from the Claret Jug in recent years. Yanks have claimed six of the last eight titles.
And there have been 12 different winners over the last 12 years.
Both facts hold well for Love, who has experienced major woes over the past two-and-a-half seasons. The 1997 PGA Champion has but one top-10 finish (T7, 2001 U.S. Open) in his last 10 major championship starts.
This is the first time he has held the 36-hole lead in a major. He has done so 25 times on the PGA Tour, but has only won on three of those occassions.
Woods won eight majors in an 11-championship stretch, but is 0 for his last 4.
Unlike Thursday, he didnt lose a ball in Round 2. He just had a problem getting it in the hole at the par-4 12th.
After making three birdies over his first seven holes to get within one of the lead, at 1-under, he dropped a shot at the par-4 ninth. He then three-putted from two feet at 12 for double bogey, and bogeyed 17.
I thought I played good enough to score a little lower than I did, said Woods. But I will take it because I am right there in the hunt and Im only four shots back, and if I play a good solid round tomorrow, I should be right where I want to be.
If you finish under par you will most probably win this tournament.