Stuart Manley had The European Tour Order of Merit number one Robert Karlsson breathing down his neck the moment he resumed the Portugal Masters with a one-stroke lead.
Manley, 174th on the money list and 575th in the world, was seeking not only his first victory in The European Tour, but also his first top 10 finish five years after turning professional.
And the importance of the weekend at the Oceânico Victoria Golf Course could be gauged by the Welshman’s reaction after scrambling an opening par four.
In the rough off the tee, he then fired his approach wide of the green and into the trees.
But a chip to 12 feet and a fine putt had him punching the air, even though nearest overnight challenger Álvaro Quirós had just made a 25-footer to join him in the lead at 11 under par.
Karlsson, meanwhile, continued his bid for a third successive victory - last achieved on the circuit by Tiger Woods two years ago - with birdies at the third, fourth and fifth.
That would have made the 39 year old Swede joint leader but for the fact that Manley by then had pitched to within five feet of the flag on the 358-yard second and holed that as well for a birdie three.
Alongside Karlsson in second place was not only Quirós, but also South African James Kingston, who, in an eventful round, made five birdies in a row from the second hole, then back-to-back bogeys, and four more successive birdies starting on the 11th.
Lee Westwood, third on the money list, had hoped to narrow the gap on Karlsson with only the Volvo Masters to come in two weeks' time.
But Westwood, five under at halfway, had slipped to four under after 11 holes.
That included three-putting the long third for par and the 442-yard ninth for bogey.
The 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie, joint second overnight, double bogeyed the first, but then birdied the next and eagled the 566-yard third to stand 10 under and joint sixth with England's Simon Dyson.
That opening six came when Lawrie's drive finished in the rough above a bunker. He had to stand in the sand and swing with the ball way above his feet, moved it only 20 yards into dense rough and from there could just hack it back onto the fairway.