Matthew Cort, who battled his way into last week's Open Championship at Royal Lytham, maintained his form to race to share the lead with Philip Golding at halfway in the Charles Church Challenge Tour Championship at Bowood Golf and Country Club in Wiltshire.
Cort carded a 68 for 136, eight under par, and was joined by Golding, who added 69 to his opening 67.
They are a shot ahead of Norfolk's Andrew Marshall and Mark Foster, from Worksop, who both signed for 70 and 137.
Having sampled the glory of the Open, Bowood's 7,317 yards held no fears for Cort, the 25 year old from Leicester.
"It seems strange but I can't believe I played at Royal Lytham," he said. "This is so far removed from the Open, but I'm happy to be leading and I'm in good form."
Cort built his lead thanks to a homeward 33 including an eagle-three at the 15th when he holed a sand wedge from 76 yards.
Cort, who was out in the morning, led for most of the day until Golding joined him after returning six birdies in his 69. "This is the first time I've led a Challenge Tour event since I won the Open des Volcans in France last summer," he said.
"But I've been playing well in recent weeks and my confidence is high. My short game has been very tidy because I've had to cut down on my practise because I've got tendonitis in both arms. So I concentrate on the short game."
Marshall, from Dereham, has also been playing well recently but he complained at missing so many birdie chances in his 70. "I missed the world today," he said. I played great from tee to green but the putts just wouldn't drop."
Foster, currently fifth on the rankings, got to eight under at one stage after going out in 33. But he lost ground with two bogeys in a homeward 37.
"It was a game of two halves," he said. "I was great going out but out of sorts coming home and just tried to hang in there."
Sharing fifth place on 138 were four players including Mattias Nilsson from Sweden, who returned a best-of-the-day 67. “It was one of those days when everything went right,” he said. “This course suits me and I hit all my approach shots close. My longest putt was no more than four metres.”
On the same mark is Denmark’s Thomas Havemann, who signed for 70, Francesco Guermani from Italy, who also shot 70, and Ireland’s Peter Lawrie, another with 70.
Sebastien Delagrange, current leader of the rankings, carded 68 for 139 and shares ninth place with Welshman Jamie Donaldson.
The cut came at one under par 143 with 51 players surviving for the weekend. Among those who didn't were local men, Andrew Sherborne and Stuart Little. Both signed for 74, Little finished on 146 and Sherborne two strokes worse.
Scotland’s Greig Hutcheon and Euan Little, and Jesus Maria Arruti from Spain, all in the top 15 on the rankings, also missed out.