Relishing being pain-free after three frustrating years of assorted health problems, former world number one Vijay Singh surged into contention at the Barclays tournament in Farmingdale, New York on Friday.

The smooth-swinging Fijian fired a flawless four-under-par 67 on the difficult Bethpage Black layout to finish the second round at seven-under 135, just one stroke behind co-leaders Nick Watney and Sergio Garcia.

Seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour since the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship, Singh was delighted to post a bogey-free score in blustery conditions on an ultra-long course measuring 7,468 yards off the back tees.

"This morning it was firmer than yesterday morning," Singh told reporters after signing off by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-four 18th. "It's playing harder. The wind is swirling around. I'm happy to have finished what I did."

Singh's career resume is already the envy of many of his peers. Renowned for his workaholic approach to practice, the tall Fijian has piled up 34 victories on the PGA Tour, including three majors.

However, the past few years have been frustrating. He had surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus in January of 2009 and was then plagued by lingering back problems for much of his 2010 campaign.

"It's all about how you're hitting it, and right now I'm striking the ball good," the 49-year-old Singh said. "My distance is back, and I'm literally pain-free, which makes a whole lot of difference.

"If you can play golf pain-free, I think you can go out there and play the way you want to play. I'm playing as good as I did in any part of my career. I'm hitting the ball as long. I'm hitting the ball straighter.

"I feel a lot of confidence in me. It's just I need to get some kind of momentum going to keep me going. I thought I had it at the PGA (Championship), but I kind of let it slip there on Sunday."

Singh, who has recorded two top-10s in his last three PGA starts, faded over the weekend in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island with closing scores of 74 and 77.

Though Singh will qualify for the over-50 Champions Tour next year, he has no immediate plans to quit competing on the regular circuit against players young enough to be his son.

"I'm playing as good as anybody out here, so if I can keep doing this and if the desire is still there and the fire is still there, I'm going to keep playing here," he smiled.

"If I lose the edge over here, I don't know if I'm going to even go and play the Champions Tour. But I feel good about myself, my health, my strength and my golf game. As long as all of them act normally, I think I'll be okay."

(Agencies)

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