Former British amateur champion Michael Hoey fired a five under par 66 to take the lead after the second round of the Madeira Islands Open BPI - Portugal at Porto Santo Golfe.
The Northern Ireland 30 year old, who came through The European Tour Qualifying School at the sixth attempt last year, reached seven under for the tournament thanks largely to 32 on the way out.
Hoey birdied four of his first six holes to turn four under, added another on the 452 yard second, but bogeyed two holes later. However a birdie at the eighth - his penultimate hole - ensured an overnight lead.
“I have played well over both rounds, I think I just made a few more putts. I should have been six under after six holes. I didn’t actually have to putt that well because I was hitting the ball so close,” he said.
“I haven’t played too many Seve courses but I think this course is good. The greens are in fantastic condition for four year old greens and I think he has done well with the land that he was given. The condition of the grass is good. There is a bit of elevation but you can only work with the land that you are given. There is a bit of emphasis on the short game but overall it’s a decent test.”
Estanislao Goya, Joakim Haeggman and Michael McGeady are all a shot further back on six under but for Ireland’s McGeady it could have been even better.
The 30 year old was eight under for the event after 17 holes of his second round but a double bogey five at the ninth - his last hole - saw him drop from first to a tie for second as he signed for a 67.
Having chipped in at the fifth to take the lead, the Irishman then found the sand with his tee shot at the 207 yard ninth before three putting.
“I thought the bunker shot was pretty good but it kicked on a bit and then I three putted which was a bit disappointing but, as I said, we can make it up tomorrow – there’s plenty of golf left to play,” he said.
“I played very solid and it’s nice to get the benefits after working so hard on my game recently.”
Argentina’s 20 year old rising star Goya posted his second consecutive 68 while joint overnight leader Haeggman added a one under 70 to his opening 66.
“I am really enjoying playing this golf course because you really have to have a good short game to play here and I have done that for the last two days,” said Goya.
“I hit a lot of good shots and chipped in on the 17th which was great. I putted well and made some great up and downs and I am very happy to be at the top of the leaderboard – hopefully I can continue over the weekend.”
Haeggman - the first Swede to play in The Ryder Cup back in 1993 - had three birdies and two bogeys in his round.
“We all know how tough this course can be and being able to play the front nine in level par was great,” he said.
“The key to playing this golf course is not to miss the green on the wrong side and, as always, taking your chances when they come because there won’t be hundreds of chances out there. I am delighted to still be up there on the leaderboard. I could only lose the tournament today but I managed to hang in there and I have a great chance over the weekend.”
Another Irishman - Damien McGrane - is in a tie for fifth having been joint-leader overnight, alongside Spain’s Carlos Rodiles.
McGrane, winner of last year's Volvo China Open, had shared the overnight lead with Haeggman after finishing his opening round by holing a bunker shot, but he double bogeyed the short fifth on his return to the Seve Ballesteros designed lay-out.
He did then birdie the long eighth and 12th, but in between came a bogey six on the tenth and he finished the day four under after a 72.
Rodiles established a record for the course when he fired a six under 65, but it did not last long as England's Richard Bland scored one better - and that after starting the tournament with a seven over 78. The Southampton golfer was back to level par as a result.
As an amateur Hoey finished 11th in the 2001 Scottish Open and he was a team-mate of Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Nick Dougherty in the Walker Cup victory in America later that year.
He turned professional after playing in The Masters Tournament in 2002, was a Challenge Tour graduate in 2005, but lost his card immediately - and that 11th place at Loch Lomond eight years ago remains his best finish on the main circuit.
Earlier in the year he was second to Retief Goosen in the Africa Open on the Sunshine Tour.