Daniel Chopra and Rory McIlroy head the European challenge at the MasterCard Masters but they will have to make up four shots if they are to overhaul leader Robert Allenby over the closing 36 holes.
Allenby is eying his third gold jacket in six years after maintaining his first round one shot lead at Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne.
Allenby, the MasterCard Masters champion in 2003 and 2005, backed up his first-round 67 with a 68 to move to nine under par 133, one shot clear of his countryman Aaron Baddeley.
Two of the biggest names in Australian golf and respectively Ranked 18th and 50th on the Official World Golf Ranking, Allenby and Baddeley will walk the famous fairways of Huntingdale together on Saturday after establishing a three shot gap over the rest of the field.
Chopra and McIlroy are among the immediate chasing pack on five under after second rounds of 70 and 69 kept them well in contention at this, the third event on The 2008 European Tour International Schedule.
With Baddeley posting the second round clubhouse lead early in the day, Allenby got his round going at the sixth, rolling in a long eagle putt to move within a shot of Baddeley's mark. He followed that up with a birdie on the eighth and then took the lead with another on the 10th. His next birdie didn't come until the 17th but he gave that back with a dropped shot at the last.
"It would have been nice to stay at ten under because my goal is to shoot five under each day so tomorrow I'll have to shoot six,” said Allenby. “I think 20 under would win the tournament – unless Aaron goes out there and does something silly.”
Baddeley was pleased with his 66 and confident that he could secure victory over the weekend.
He said: "I felt like I played really nice today, overall. I felt like the bogey on the first was a little soft, then the one on 18 I got a poor lie in the fairway bunker, but overall I was very pleased. I’m going to be right there for the weekend.”
Playing alongside Baddeley during the second round, McIlroy was pleased with his 69 as he seeks his maiden professional win.
“I’m very happy,” said the 18 year old. “I have hit a lot of good shots and made a lot of chances for birdies. I have left a few out there but as long as I am making the chances then I am happy. I am looking forward to the weekend.”