For now, Molder will settle for a career-best round and the lead midway through the Colonial, where Phil Mickelson and David Duval missed the cut.
Molder shot an 8-under 62 Friday to get to 13 under for a one-stroke lead over first-round co-leader Jason Bohn (65). Kris Blanks (64) and Brian Davis (65) were two strokes back, one ahead of Boo Weekley (63) and Jeff Overton (67).
A 31-year-old Georgia Tech graduate who has split time between the PGA and Nationwide tours since his professional debut in 2002, Molder was one stroke off matching the course record of 61 after missing an 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
"I read it correctly, lined it up correctly, felt like I was playing too much break, and I kind of just let myself pull it, I think, instead of just trusting my line," Molder said. "But you certainly get a little bit of excitement when you start shooting a low score."
Mickelson would have overtaken Tiger Woods for the No. 1 spot in the world ranking with a win at Colonial, but instead had consecutive over-par rounds. The Arizona State grad shot a 73 on Friday, when he had consecutive bogeys early and then three more in a row after his last birdie, to finish 4 over on the course where Lefty won in last appearance two years ago.
Duval, who like Molder was a standout player at Georgia Tech, was 1 over after a round of 73.
After two days of ideal scoring conditions with hot temperatures and nearly no wind, 76 players made the cut at a tournament-record-low 2 under. There were 19 other players who broke par or were even and will not play this weekend.
While Molder has been bothered by a sore throat, Bohn stayed near the top of the leaderboard despite an inner-ear infection that has made it impossible to hear anything through his left ear while affecting his equilibrium since the tournament started.
"I noticed going up and down, standing up and down, that I got dizzy a few times," Bohn said. "I don't know whether it was my ear or the heat or a combination of the both. I kind of had to slow it down a little bit out there. I was really cautious."
Davis had a bogey-free 65 Friday, when his face was still swollen because of an abscess inside his mouth that he had treated by a doctor after his opening 64. His concentration apparently wasn't affected by the medications he is taking to ease the pain.
"I might just keep taking them all year if this carries on," Davis said, with a smile.
Since losing in a playoff to Jim Furyk at Hilton Head, when the Englishman who has never won on the PGA Tour called a two-stroke penalty on himself, Davis finished tied for 57th at New Orleans and missed the cut his last three tournaments.
Mickelson won't be at Hogan's Alley for the Colonial's second "Pink Out" on Saturday, when most players along with PGA Tour and tournament officials are expected to wear pink. New this year, two downtown Fort Worth buildings were being illuminated with pink lights Friday night and donations are being made for each birdie and eagle made during the third round.