Seve Benson boosted his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a share of the clubhouse lead with Jbe’ Kruger at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
The 25 year old Englishman was the last player to keep his card in 2009, but missed much of 2010 due to a back injury.
But he is only 163rd on The Race to Dubai with less than a month of the season remaining, and only a strong end of season will guarantee Benson his playing privileges in 2012.
Benson, named by his parents after Europe's most charismatic golfer, turned in 32 and then had five more birdies in six holes at the start of the longer back nine.
The former boy international has not had a top-ten finish all season after being given a medical exemption for the year.
Kruger, also 25, secured his card for 2012 with a 13th place finish in the Barclays Singapore Open on Sunday, had seven birdies and an eagle on the long 18th, his ninth of the day.
He would have led on his own but for a bogey at the short 16th, but as it was he and Benson were two ahead of Scots George Murray and Alan McLean and also Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet.
Murray, who earned nearly €200,000 for joint third place in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews last month, had no fewer than ten birdies in his round, but also two bogeys and a double bogey on the 499 yard par four tenth.
Benson and Kruger were still two clear of the field in mid-afternoon, but Scotland's Lloyd Saltman had an eagle and four birdies in his first six holes to join compatriots Murray and McLean and also Gonnet in joint third place.