Thomas Aiken fired a brilliant 64 to take the clubhouse lead during the second round of the Omega European Masters.
But the South African faces a tough weekend trying to hang on to top spot, with former winner Bradley Dredge only one behind.
Back on the Crans-sur-Sierre course in Switzerland where he had his last win three years ago, the 36 year old Welshman had a second round 65 to move one behind Aiken.
Wales will be staging The Ryder Cup for the first time next year at The Celtic Manor Resort and Dredge, a former World Cup winner, said: "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"The Ryder Cup is my goal - that's it - and while I've had a disappointing year so far the season starts here."
This is the first qualifying event for the European side - Captain Colin Montgomerie has already said he would love a Welshman to make it - and Dredge is nine under par at halfway.
Aiken's 64 took him to ten under, but overnight leaders Brett Rumford and Simon Dyson both failed to make further progress.
Rumford, who played the last 13 holes in 11 under in the first round for a 62, dropped four strokes in his first five holes but recovered to seven under.
Dyson, one behind when he teed off again, had two bogeys in the first four, came back with four birdies, but then finished bogey-bogey.
That added up to a level par 71 for the winner of the KLM Open in The Netherlands two weeks ago and he was in third place on eight under.
Alongside Dyson are Dubliner Paul McGinley and Angelo Que of The Philippines while Thai star Chapchai Nirat – a member of both the Asian Tour and The European Tour who are co-sanctioning an event in Europe for the first time here – Sweden’s Alexander Noren and Dyson’s compatriot Graeme Storm are a shot further back.
McGinley, a member of three winning Ryder Cup sides and hoping to be back playing next year, still had one to play.
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, for whom victory on Sunday would mean going to the top of The Race to Dubai, had to be content with a 71 like Dyson.
Last year's runner-up - he missed an 18 inch putt in the play-off - was into the top ten at six under with four to play, but bogeyed the sixth after driving into the trees, then drove out of bounds on the next and ran up a double bogey six on a hole that had already seen more eagles twos.
A closing birdie, however, lifted McIlroy back to four under, the same mark as playing partner Lee Westwood, who improved four shots on his opening 71.
On the course, Argentina’s Anders Romero birdied his opening two holes to join the group on eight under.
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