Graeme McDowell has a chance to make up significant ground on Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer after he claimed the halfway lead at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters.
McDowell followed his first round 68 with a wonderful 67 to move two shots clear of fellow Northern Irishman Gareth Maybin, with Niclas Fasth a further two shots back in third.
The US Open champion currently lies over €900,000 behind Kaymer at the top of the Race to Dubai standings, but is now in pole position to take the €500,000 first prize in Sotogrande, with his German rival down the field on four over.
McDowell was unable to keep a bogey off his card as he had done on the opening day, with dropped shots coming at the fifth and ninth.
However, the Ulsterman more than made up for his slip-ups with six birdies - four of those coming in the space of six holes on the back nine.
“I didn’t play that well on the front nine, it was rather scrappy, but the back nine was good,” said McDowell. “I gave myself birdie chances and positioned the ball well.
“Level par is a good job at Valderrama. I will just keep doing what I'm doing for the next couple of days.
“Martin has not had his best two days, but he is a world class player. I will have to control my own game, and I'm going to do my best; that's all I have to do.
“At Valderrama you’ve got to stay patient and focused.”
Maybin, seeking his maiden European Tour victory, picked up shots on the third, fifth, 15th and 17th holes to climb into second place, with his only bogey of the tournament so far arriving at the seventh.
“Overall I’m really happy,” he said. “Patience has been my game plan for the last couple of days, and will be for the next two.”
Fasth surged up the leaderboard with a faultless round of 66 - equalling the lowest round of the week so far.
The 38 year old Swede has not tasted victory since his triumph at the BMW International Open in 2007, but will enter the weekend in confident mood following a sterling display around Valderrama’s notoriously tricky greens.
“It is a lovely score,” he said. “I am very pleased and somewhat surprised because my game is not so solid, but my putting and my short game were sensational.
“On this course you need to have a good short game even if you are in great form.
“I have had another tough season this year, but it’s getting better at the end and here I have found a bit of spark, a bit of energy.”
Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gary Boyd fired rounds of 70 and 69 respectively to share fourth place on two under, while Jean-Baptiste Gonnet claimed four birdies in his first five holes and six in total during a 67 which lifted him into a group of eight players at one under.
But it was another disappointing day for Kaymer, who needs to win or share second place with no more than one other player if he, rather than the absent Lee Westwood, is to succeed Tiger Woods as World Number One when the American's 281-week reign at the top of the rankings ends on Monday.
Kaymer posted two birdies and two bogeys on his front nine, but dropped further shots at the 14th, 16th and 18th to fall 11 shots behind McDowell.
Overnight leader Pablo Larrazabal also found things tough and slipped back to one over courtesy of a 77.