Michael Hoey (Getty Images)
Michael Hoey turned in a five under par 31 to race into a four shot lead midway through the third round of the M2M Russian Open.
The Northern Irishman - a four-time European Tour winner - had not finished better than 25th on The European Tour this season and missed seven of his last ten cuts coming into the event.
However, opening rounds of 70 and 67 had left him one behind at the halfway stage, with the 34 year old talking of his need to cut out the mistakes from his game in order to challenge over the weekend.
That was certainly the case with his blemish-free front nine, with birdies at the first, seventh and ninth and an eagle three at the long eighth taking him to 12 under par for the week.
That was four clear of English trio Matthew Baldwin, James Morrison and Matthew Nixon and Frenchman Alexandre Kaleka.
Kaleka, who won this event when it formed part of the Challenge Tour schedule last year, birdied four of his first seven holes but then went six-six at the eighth and ninth, dropping three shots in the process.