Wu Ashun delighted the home crowds with a brilliant 65 that handed him a two shot lead heading into the weekend at the Volvo China Open.
The home favourite won his maiden European Tour title at this event in 2015 and has gone on to triumph twice more, making him the most prolific Chinese winner in European Tour history.
Victory number four may have looked a long way off as he secured just one top 40 finish in his first eight events on the 2019 Race To Dubai but he moved to 13 under on day two at Genzon Golf Club to lead the way from Finn Tapio Pulkkanen.
Last week's winner Jorge Campillo was then at ten under, a shot clear of Frenchman Benjamin Hebert.
It also proved to be a historic day as Yang Kuang at just 14 years, six months and 12 days old became the second youngest player ever to make the cut on the European Tour, after a clutch putt on the last secured a par and opening rounds of 71-71.
Wu has put his early season struggles partly down to some changes he is making in his swing and the 33-year-old was happy to see his hard work paying off on home soil.
"It was a great day again today," he said. "I made eight birdies and one bogey, I hit a lot of quality shots today and made a lot of birdies. I’m very happy.
"During the season break, I took some time off to evaluate my game. I made some swing changes and it got better and better.
"I enjoy playing at home. It’s a great week as I have my family and friends here with me. It’s a good feeling."
Wu started the day a shot behind joint overnight leader Campillo but picked up shots on the tenth and 13th and, with Campillo making his first bogey of the week on the same hole, there was a change at the top.
The Spaniard recovered with gains at the 14th, 17th and 18th but that could not keep pace with Wu, who made further birdies on the 15th and 17th to turn in 32.
Both players birdied the first and Wu then produced a moment of magic, chipping in at the third and he led by two shots.
The leader had a stroke of luck at the fifth as he got a free drop after his tee shot found a bush but his second was poor and he dropped a first shot of the day.
He bounced back from 12 feet on the seventh, however, and a beautiful bunker shot on the par five last handed him a closing birdie and a three shot lead.
In the afternoon, Pulkkanen - who had started the day alongside Campillo at seven under - played his first nine holes in level par, with a monster putt on the par three ninth the highlight.
He then came to life on his back nine, birdieing the first, second, fifth, seventh and eighth to get within one before bogeying the ninth.
Hebert also started on the back nine, making birdies on the tenth, 11th, 13th, second and ninth, with a bogey on the 14th.
Fellow Frenchmen Victor Dubuisson and Romain Langasque, Australian pair Min Woo Lee and Jason Scrivener, American Sean Crocker and South African Erik van Rooyen were all eight under.