Rory McIlroy fired a six-under-par 65 in the second round at Ridgewood Country Club to stand five shots behind co-leaders Adam Scott and American Cameron Tringale at The Barclays.
McIlroy had shot a 74 in the opening round and the 25-year-old said he had not regained his focus after a week celebrating his brilliant run of three successive wins including the British Open and PGA Championship titles.
"I was asked yesterday after I played, if you're going to battle to make the cut or whatever. I said missing the cut isn't an option," McIlroy said.
"I know how well I am playing and how comfortable I am with my game, so even to miss a cut feeling like that would have felt really bad. So that's why I put a little bit extra effort in yesterday and this morning and made sure I was ready to go out there this afternoon."
Scott, meanwhile, used a run of four successive birdies to vault into a share of the halfway lead.
The Australian world number two, caught fire from the par-four fifth hole to post a 31 on the front nine and added two more birdies including a nice finishing touch at 18 to complete a 65 for eight-under 134.