Andrew Dodt was looking to retain his European Tour card in the manner he earned it – with a tournament victory – as he took over at the top of the UBS Hong Kong Open leaderboard.
The Australian, whose two year exemption for winning the 2010 Avantha Masters runs out on Sunday, was two under through eight holes of his second round at Hong Kong Golf Club.
That took the 26 year old to seven under for the week and two in front of overnight leader Javi Colomo, his fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez and England’s David Horsey.
Dodt has not had a top ten finish on The European Tour in more than 50 events since his victory in India, but seemed to have found his best form in the nick of time.
Starting the week at 122nd on The Race to Dubai – only the top 119 retain playing privileges come Sunday – Dodt needed at least €1,912 to have any chance of climbing the required three places.
Colomo, who qualified for the event off his Asian Tour ranking after three unsuccessful attempts at The European Tour Qualifying School, followed his sensational opening 64 with two bogeys and a birdie in his first 12 holes to drop back to five under, alongside compatriot Jiménez who was amongst the later starters.
Horsey, exempt for next season after winning in Morocco last year despite lying 134th in the current standings, had two birdies in an outward 34.
Frenchman Julien Quesne, having missed 12 cuts since his breakthrough victory in Spain earlier in the season, was making a late charge for a DP World Tour Championship place in the group on four under.
Two under for his round, Quesne – currently 67th on The Race to Dubai with the top 60 heading to Jumeirah Golf Estates next week – was in a tie for fifth with Chinese veteran Zhang Lian-wei, Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal, his compatriot Pablo Larrazábal, Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed, Ryder Cup star Paul Lawrie, Dane Anders Hansen and Australian Marcus Fraser.