Tyrrell Hatton fired an eighth round in the 60s in his last ten circuits at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to stay right in the hunt for a third title in a row.
The Englishman carded a bogey-free 66 at the Championship Course Carnoustie to sit just a shot off the lead heading into the weekend and it was a far cry off his first two appearances at the event.
He missed the cut in 2014 and 2015, finishing outside the top 100, but after carding four birdies and an eagle on Friday, he has a good chance to become the first player to win a regular European Tour event three years in a row since Ernie Els at the Heineken Classic between 2002 and 2004.
“It seems I've either missed the cut in this event or won it,” he said. “The first few years playing here was difficult. We're all trying to play well every week and we give it our best, some weeks you have it and some you don't.
“It's been a good couple of days. There's still two days to go but I'm looking forward to playing St Andrews tomorrow. Another calm day, I haven't looked at the forecast so not sure what the conditions are like. Hopefully I'll have a good weekend.
“We got Carnoustie on a nice day today, which helps a lot. This is the toughest out of the three, especially when it blows, so we're all fortunate to get pretty calm conditions today.”
Matthias Schwab was also at eight under after a bogey-free 67 in his first competitive round over the Old Course at St Andrews.
The Austrian made gains on the first, seventh, ninth, 16th and last and was happy to maintain momentum after a battling 69 in high winds at Carnoustie on day one.
“I had a solid day,” he said. “The conditions today were a lot better with no wind. The course played nicely. I was able to make a pretty long putt on one for birdie to set the tone and then I just played solid all around.
“It was my first round, my first competitive round on the Old Course, which was awesome. I enjoyed every minute of it, tried to make the most of it and I'm pretty happy with my score.”
Australian Marcus Fraser completed the group in second after carding a 68 at St Andrews.
The overnight leader looked set to slip off the pace before a birdie-birdie finish and was happy to keep himself right in contention for European Tour title number four.
“It was good,” he said. “I didn't feel like I played all that well but hung in there and managed. It was nice and, all of a sudden, sign for a 68. It was a little bit scrappy through the heart but it was okay.
“I feel like I've been pretty patient the last two days. Hopefully we get pretty benign conditions and we'll wait and see. It will be much of the same, just try and get it in play and keep out of trouble.”