A second round 70 proved good enough to enable first round joint-leader Tim Clark of South Africa to keep his nose in front at the Sportsbet Australian Masters at Huntingdale.
Clark leads by one stroke on seven under par from Anthony Summers of New South Wales who got to eight under before dropping two shots on his final three holes for a 68, and Michael Sim of Western Australia who fired a bogey free 66.
One stroke further back among a menacing pack of seven players sits Robert Allenby who picked up five shots on the back nine for a second round 66.
Joint first round leader Scott Hend finished with a one over 73 to drop to four under.
The field generally took full advantage of Friday's calm, quiet conditions on a course softened by overnight rain. One exception was World Number 53 Clark, the runner-up behind Phil Mickelson at Augusta National in 2006, who's competing in Australia for the first time.
"I had a lot more birdie chances and with the greens being softer it was easier to get it closer, and I just didn’t make anything," Clark said. "I made one putt of about eight feet for birdie on one which was my back nine, and that was it all day. I left a lot out there on the greens, but I'm still in a great position.
"It seems like it's going to be quite bunched-up with how the course is playing so really it's about playing four solid rounds and really, this isn't going to set me back."
The unheralded Summers came to the Sportsbet Australian Masters buoyed by a tie for tenth in this tournament last year, his best ever finish in a PGA Tour of Australasia event.
But he conceded that being entrenched at the sharp end of the field at the half-way mark of the tournament is something new.
"It could have been really good out there," the 39 year old said. "When I hit a bad one, I got away with it, and when I hit the good ones I made the most of them, so it was a good day. I get to play the weekend, that's a great bonus."
Fit for the past several months after two years disrupted by stress fractures in his lower back, 24 year old Sim is excited about his prospects at Huntingdale.
"I'm just going to stick to my game plan and play aggressive," said Sim. "I'm putting the ball well and I'm hitting a lot of greens so as long as I can keep it going, it will be an exciting weekend."
The individual highlight of the day was provided by 27 year old Aaron Townsend of New South Wales who arrived at the course at the crack of dawn to complete the final five holes of his first round that were stymied by Thursday's electrical storm.
He made a complete hash of it, finishing with four bogeys for a three over 75.
But after short break to compose himself, Townsend proceeded to tear Huntingdale to bits with an equal course record second round 64 to join Allenby on five under.