Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau were expected to be contenders at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, taking advantage of a relatively weak field and course by PGA Tour standards.
Chris Kirk was not.
A year after taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour to address alcohol abuse and depression, though, he has turned around his life and revived his career.
Kirk had a seven-under 65 on Friday (Saturday AEST) to take the second-round lead at the Detroit Golf Club, and Simpson later shot a 64 to pull into a tie atop the leaderboard at 12-under 132.
"I was out there thinking about him a little bit, just with his decision to take some time away from golf and take care of himself," Simpson recalled.
"I'm so proud of what he's been able to do and come back and make the comeback he's made, winning on the Korn Ferry Tour (developmental circuit). And, now he's out here trying to win a PGA Tour event."
When Kirk stopped playing last year, he didn't know what his future was in the sport.
"I kind of just didn't care at that point," he recalled.
"I was focused on doing what I needed to do to be healthy, to be a good husband for my wife and a good father to my kids. I was thankfully in a place financially where my career could wait."
The 35-year-old Kirk has won four times on the PGA Tour, most recently in 2015.
Simpson won the RBC Heritage two weeks ago in South Carolina, finishing at a tournament-record 22-under for his second win of the season and seventh of his career.
He withdrew from the Connecticut event last week because one of his daughters appeared to have COVID-19, but she later tested negative.
Simpson and DeChambeau chose to come to the Motor City while many of the PGA Tour's top players skipped the tournament.
In the PGA Tour's first three events after the COVID-19 pandemic stunted the season, the top five players in the world ranking participated in each tournament.
None of the top five players is at the Detroit Golf Club and the field includes just 18 of the top 50.
Simpson is No.6 in the world ranking and DeChambeau is No.10.
Matthew Wolff (64), Seamus Power (66), Mark Hubbard (66), Ryan Armour (64) and Richy Werenski (66) also were a a shot off the lead going into the weekend.
The only Australian to make the cut was Rhein Gibson, who sits seven shots behind the leaders at five-under.
His compatriots Jason Day, Cameron Davis and Greg Chalmers all missed the cut by one shot, ending the second round at four-under.