Paul Lawrie kept a bogey off his card for the second day running to open up a two stroke lead midway through the second round of the Johnnie Walker Championships at The Gleneagles Hotel.
The 1999 The Open Championship winner, who is looking for a hat-trick of titles in his native land following that success and his victory in the Dunhill Links at St Andrews in 2001, added a 69 to his opening 67. That gave Lawrie an eight-under-par halfway total of 136.
"I played very well today and I hit the ball extremely solidly," he said. "To be eight under par after two rounds without a bogey on my card is very pleasing here on a course which is demanding."
Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell, a European Tour rookie who was Rory McIlroy's partner in the 2007 Walker Cup when both men were still in the amateur phase of their careers, moved into second place with a superb 66.
Only one under with seven holes to play the 25-year-old from Bangor birdied the 12th and 14th and then finished with three further birdies in a row.
That pushed Lawrie's playing partner Jose Maria Olazabal into a share of third place with Ryder Cup Dane Soren Hansen, France's Gregory Bourdy and Shiv Kapur of India.
Olazabal was delighted with a 68 that started with five birdies in six holes.
The 43-year-old Spaniard, whose appearances the last three years have been limited by rheumatism, said: "I can't practise as much as I need and there's still a little bit of pain here and there, especially when I wake up in the morning. You have to take it slow and give yourself time to try to loosen up. I have to live with that for the time being."
Olazabal has not had a top ten finish in Europe since 2006, but he did finish sixth in the US PGA Tour's Verizon Heritage tournament at Hilton Head in April.
Kapur had joined Lawrie out in front by sinking a 90-yard pitch for an eagle three on the 533-yard 18th. But that was his ninth hole of the day and after a birdie at the first he bogeyed the third and ran up a triple bogey six on the short fourth, where he needed three attempts to get out of a bunker.
Also making his presence felt was 19-year-old New Zealander Danny Lee, playing his first event in Europe since becoming the circuit's youngest ever winner in Australia in February.
Lee, who turned professional after the Masters Tournament in April and has based himself in the United States since then, had six birdies, but four bogeys meant he had to be content with a 70 and three under par aggregate.