England's Mark Foster moved into the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles second round clubhouse lead a year after losing a play-off after bogeying the par five final hole.
A second successive 68 gave Foster an eight under par halfway total and was one ahead of Ryder Cup-bound Paul Lawrie and Australian Brett Rumford.
Lawrie, who last played against the Americans in 1999, admitted he was grinning "like a Cheshire cat" about sealing his second Ryder Cup cap ahead of this, the final qualifying event.
"I don't think you can underestimate how much the Ryder Cup kind of plays on players' minds," said the 43 year old Scot.
Lawrie was playing again with Francesco Molinari, the other player in the field certain to be up against the Americans in Chicago, and the Italian remained four under with a 72.
Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who needs a top two finish to earn a Cup debut and push Martin Kaymer out of an automatic spot, was among the later starters. He was in a tie for eighth following his first round 69.
Also four under was Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello, who by winning would miss out on a Ryder Cup place by less than two world ranking points.
More than five years on from his last win Colin Montgomerie forced his way onto the leaderboard at a rainy Gleneagles Hotel.
The 49 year old tournament chairman - Europe's Ryder Cup Captain two years ago - used the final counting event for next month's match to find his form again all of a sudden.
Only 510th in the Official World Golf Ranking now and 173rd on The Race to Dubai money list he has won a record eight times, Montgomerie added a 68 to his opening 72 to stand four under par at halfway. He was in a tie for sixth.
Montgomerie had four successive birdies in a row on the back nine and then had a chance to make it five in a row and go into the joint lead when he was just off the green in two at the 18th, but his chip failed to run down the tier in the green and he had to settle for par.
"That stopped the momentum really," he said after a front nine containing eight pars and a bogey on the seventh.
"It started to rain, got really miserable and horrible. I'm wet now and I want to go home."
He lives only a few miles away from the 2014 Ryder Cup venue.
Colsaerts was unable to boost his Cup hopes over the first half of his second round. He birdied the sixth, but a bogey two holes later put him in a tie for 16th place five behind Foster.