Nino Bertasio will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the Portugal Masters after firing a second consecutive 65 on day two at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.
The Italian entered the week needing a big finish to the season, sitting at 117th on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and also outside the top ten on the Access List.
He has just three European Tour top tens in his 61 events - including at this year's LYONESS OPEN powered by ORGANIC+ - but the 2015 Qualifying School graduate got to 12 under to put himself in pole position for a first European Tour win.
Lucas Bjerregaard and Marc Warren - two men also on the outside looking in at the top 100 places in the Rankings - were then a shot behind, one clear of Joost Luiten and Jason Scrivener.
Bjerregaard is 114th with Warren 59 places below him but they made a mockery of those positions on a day of good scoring in Vilamoura.
The Dane set the target at 11 under with a 65 in the morning and Scot Warren went one better in the afternoon to join him at the summit before Bertasio birdied two of his last four holes after being the last man to tee off to snatch the lead.
Those gains at the sixth and seventh added to earlier birdies on the 12th, 14th, 16th and 17th in a blemish-free effort.
"I'm feeling good," he said. "The game's really good. I had a bogey-free round today and it was very easy golf.
"I just missed one green and I chipped it to one foot so I never really struggled to make pars and had a lot of looks at birdies and I made some and missed some so it was a very easy six under.
I had a bogey-free round today and it was very easy golf - Nino Bertasio
"I'm really playing well, I'm hitting the ball well. It's a very good golf course if you're playing well because if you hit it well you're going to do well.
"I'm really happy with what me and (caddie) Rich are doing out there and we're both looking forward to the weekend."
Bjerregaard looked close to making his European Tour breakthrough in 2015 with four top fives in his last nine events but is still seeking that first European Tour win on the Algarve.
He had battled his way to a 66 despite finding the water twice on day one but his job was far more straightforward in round two with birdies on the fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, 12th and 17th.
Warren is a three-time winner on the European Tour but has made just two of his last 12 cuts with a best finish in 2017 of tied 14th at the Made In Denmark.
He birdied the 11th and 16th before an eagle on the next helped him turn in 32 with further gains on the second, fifth and eighth.
Dutchman Luiten carried the momentum over from his opening 64 as he birdied the second and fourth, holed a long putt on the ninth and then put a stunning approach into the tenth before dropping his only shot of the day on the 14th.
Australia's Scrivener also made a positive start with birdies on the 11th, 13th, 15th and 17th but could not make any further progress in his last ten holes.
South African pair Dean Burmester and George Coetzee, English duo Eddie Pepperell and Graeme Storm, and Ireland's Shane Lowry were then at nine under, a shot ahead of defending champion Padraig Harrington, Belgian Thomas Detry and Spain's Nacho Elvira.