John Morgan took a firm grip on the Charles Church Challenge Tour Championship after a second round 68 at Bowood Golf and Country Club in Wiltshire.
The 24 year old Englishman from nearby Portishead is on ten under par 134, three strokes ahead of another Englishman, David Geall, who carded a best-of-the-day 67, and Greig Hutcheon from Scotland, who also returned 68.
Morgan, who is making only his eighth Challenge Tour appearance, signed for five birdies despite suffering from a headache.
"I was very nervous on the first tee because I've never been in this position before," he said. "But I had a lot of relatives and friends from my local club at Clevedon following me round.
"My plan was to take my chances when they came and even then I left a few putts in the jaws of the hole. I didn't do anything stupid but when I tried something it came off.
"But I'm playing a course I know and I will attack tomorrow because I don't believe in defending a score."
Eastbourne-born Geall, 34, has been a teaching pro in Germany for the past five years but decided last winter to concentrate on tournament golf. It is paying off as he found six birdies in his 67 to love into his best position so far on the Challenge Tour.
"I only missed one green and I'm putting lovely," he said. "It's my first time at Bowood but this is a superb course in great condition."
Hutcheon added a 68 to his opening 69 and credited his new style left-below-right putting stroke for his success as he ran in four birdies in his final five holes. "The putting is going fine and I look like holing every putt," he said.
Gustavo Rojas from Argentina, is fourth on 138 after a 68 that contained four birdies and no dropped shots, while Marc Pendaries from France and South Africans Titch Moore and Richard Sterne are joint fifth on 139.
Pendaries signed for a bogey-free 70, while Moore, refreshed after a three-week break back in South Africa, got to six under with four birdies only to drop a shot at the 18th after firing his approach over the green, eventually returning 69.
Sterne also got to six under through 15 holes, but suffered back-to-back bogeys in a 70. “I haven’t been making putts lately but I holed some good ones today,” he said.
Olivier David from France signed for six birdies in a 67 to make the cut on the limit, while England’s Simon Lilly, in only his second Challenge Tour event, added a 68 to his opening 76 to survive on the limit.
The cut came at level par 144 with 55 players surviving for the weekend. Among those who didn't was Lee James, current leader of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit, who finished on 146 after a 73, and ex-Ryder Cup man Steven Richardson, who shot 77 for 153.
Another Englishman, Richard Brown, a pro only since April, had six birdies in a 67 to make the cut on 144.