Lickliter had a breakout season in 2001, winning the Kemper Open and finishing 19th on the money list to earn a berth in the Tour Championship. But he finished no better than seventh in 29 events last year and tumbled to 93rd on the money list.
The 33-year-old Florida resident appears to have regained his fine form. He shot a career-best 62 in the Bob Hope Classic and just missed matching that Friday as he holed eight birdies and a chip-in eagle before a bogey at his final hole.
Gay followed an opening-round 67 with a 6-under 66 to create some distance between himself and the rest of the pack. He was at 11-under 133, three shots better than Todd Barranger, Brandel Chamblee and Arron Oberholser.