Welshman Jamie Donaldson, without a European Tour win in 254 starts, led The Irish Open midway through his third round at wet and windy Royal Portrush.
Despite the difficult conditions the 36 year old was in inspired form on the greens, grabbing an eagle and three birdies on the front nine.
There were also two bogeys on his card, but at 12 under par Donaldson was two in front of English pair Anthony Wall and Paul Waring, making his first appearance for over a year following wrist surgery and nerve problems.
Overnight leader Grégory Bourdy had three bogeys in his first six holes and leading Irish hope Padraig Harrington two in seven, but both were still well in touch at nine and eight under respectively.
Open Champion Darren Clarke, having made his first halfway cut of the year, reached seven under with a birdie-eagle start, but by the time he ran up a double bogey seven on the long 17th he was back to three under.
The other two members of Northern Ireland's "Big Three" - US Open winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, of course - were also finding it tough to get into contention.
World Number Two McIlroy was six under with three to play and McDowell four under coming down the last.
Donaldson, who played the world amateur team championship with Luke Donald and Paul Casey in 2000, bogeyed the first after resuming two behind.
But a ten footer for eagle on the next was the start of things to come.
He saved par from 20 feet at the fourth, converted another ten foot chance on the next and then holed from 25 feet for another birdie at the short sixth.
His second dropped shot came on the difficult seventh, but as conditions finally improved he chipped to two feet at the 475 yard par five ninth and made that to turn in a superb 33.
Wall, with only one win in 401 European Tour events, did even better with a front nine 32 and made up for a six at the long tenth with a fifth birdie of the round at the next.
Waring bogeyed the first and third, but birdied the second and ninth to keep alive his dream of what would be an incredible victory after such a long enforced lay-off.
He had to seek a medical extension to The European Tour Membership this season after injuring himself during the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in May last year.
Donaldson bogeyed the 412 yard 12th and with Wall grabbing birdie at the long 17th and parring the last they were level at 11 under, one ahead of Bourdy, Foster and Waring.
Harrington was two back with six to play, but McIlroy's 71 left him five back and McDowell's 73 meant he was seven adrift.
As Wall spoke about the delights of staying in a caravan park close to the course - "I'm hoping I might get a sponsorship!" he said - Donaldson seized back the outright lead with a birdie at the 442 yard 16th.
Waring and Foster were two behind on ten under as a result and Harrington three back after he bogeyed the 13th, but birdied the next.