Tom Lewis (Getty Images)
The race to retain playing privileges for 2014 was hotting up at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where five players currently outside the all-important top 110 were sharing the clubhouse lead.
France’s Alexandre Kaleka, Chile’s Mark Tullo and English trio Tom Lewis, Richard McEvoy and Oliver Wilson all posted eight under par rounds of 64 at the three-course pro-am event.
With just two events after this one for players to keep their cards for next season, Tullo, Kaleka and McEvoy all shone at St Andrews, while former Ryder Cup star Wilson and ex-amateur star Lewis starred at Kingsbarns.
Wales’ Jamie Donaldson celebrated being named in Great Britain & Ireland's Seve Trophy by Golf+ team by making an the best score at Carnoustie, a seven under par 65 leaving him in a share for sixth with George Murray, Mark Foster and Matthew Baldwin.
Lewis has now broken 70 in five of his last 12 rounds, but the former Portugal Masters winner has so far been unable to maintain that sort of scoring over the weekend and lies 155th on The Race to Dubai.
“I played well today,” said former Silver Medal winner Lewis. “My putting was a lot better today.
“The last couple of weeks, I've been struggling, even though I've shot some good scores, but today was perfect. I holed a couple of good putts as well. If I can do some of that again for the next couple days, then I'll be right up there for Sunday.
“Obviously I'm solid on the first 18; Friday is sort of my enemy. If I can try to get away from that this week, I'll be fine.
“Trying too hard is always something I do and playing three different courses might just help me not know what I've done the day before and try and expect different things.
“Winning so early helped me compete at the top level but at the same time probably hurt me, as well, by expecting too much, too early. I'm learning, and it's a shame that I haven't performed better over the last couple of years, but when I'm back at the top, I'll be ready to get back at the top; whereas before, I probably wasn't.”
Wilson was a runner-up nine times on The European Tour between 2006-2009, and partnered current Race to Dubai leader Stenson to victory over Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim at the 2008 Ryder Cup.
However, after losing his card at the end of the last season, the 33 year old has missed the cut in all six of his starts this term – although he did rediscover some form with second and fifth place finishes in his last three Challenge Tour events.
“I'm playing a lot better,” said Wilson. “For the first time in probably over a year actually, I have some control over my shots and able to hit the shots and trust it under pressure, as well.
“I'm driving the ball way, way better, which is essentially the thing that disappeared. I wasn't able to get it in play, get it on fairways, and any wind I was really in trouble.
“It’s nice of Dunhill and Johann to give me an invite to this event, because it's going to be a great test. Especially at Carnoustie and St Andrews, you're going to really have to stand up and hit some tee shots.
“We've played some good courses the last few weeks on The Challenge Tour and I've played well, and that's built my confidence and given a chance to get my card at the end of the year in a few various ways, and obviously there is a chance this week, as well.
“I just have to keep playing well. Wherever I play, if I play well, it's only a matter of time before I get to I where want to get to, so that's the most important thing.”