Julien Guerrier will take a two-shot lead into the weekend after following up his opening 67 with a brilliant 68 on day two of the 2022 Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale.
The Frenchman made five birdies and two bogeys on Friday morning as well as producing some spectacular par saves as the Twenty Ten Course at The Celtic Manor Resort provided a stern test once again.
None of the afternoon starters were able to match Guerrier's 36-hole total of seven under par at the 2010 Ryder Cup venue, with Callum Shinkwin and American Johannes Veerman his nearest challengers on five under.
Englishman Shinkwin mixed seven birdies with four bogeys in an impressive second-round 68, while Veerman holed his approach shot at the 18th for a closing eagle to secure a 68 of his own.
Jack Senior, Espen Kofstad, Marcus Armitage and Thomas Detry were another shot back on four under.
Guerrier began the day with a share of the lead and kept an early bogey off his card courtesy of a 15-foot par save at the first hole.
He holed another lengthy putt - this time for a birdie - after sending his tee-shot at the short third to 25 feet.
The 37-year-old made a bogey at the sixth but got the shot back with a ten-foot birdie on the ninth green.
A close-range birdie followed at the 11th before Guerrier got up and down from a bunker for another gain on the 15th.
An eventful finish saw Guerrier bogey the 16th, rescue an unlikely par at the 17th after getting out of position and birdie the last to head into the clubhouse on seven under.
Guerrier is hunting his first DP World Tour victory, having gone close at the Cazoo Classic at Hillside Golf Club last month.
He said: "It was a really good day for me.
"My driving and my iron game were not very good, I was really far from the pins but I only made one three-putt - my putting was really good and that was the key today.
“I played some bad shots but I made some good shots, otherwise I would not have shot three under.
"I try to avoid watching the leaderboard, I try to focus on my concentration and it’s a very demanding course.
"Anything can happen at every hole and so I just try to play safe and in the good areas on a difficult golf course.
"My learning from Hillside is to stay patient, stay focused and concentrate on your own game, that’s all."
Veerman had a day to remember on Friday, sinking an enormous putt on the first hole for a birdie before judging his tricky third shot to perfection at the ninth and rolling in the birdie putt.
But he saved his best until last, holing out for an eagle on the 18th from the fairway. His approach shot took one bounce on the green before jumping into the cup.
He said: "I flushed it, there was one bounce and it disappeared and the pin was on the back so I thought it went long over the green into the swale and I thought, 'no you did not go long', but then I heard some cheering at the back!"
David Howell, making his 700th DP World Tour appearance this week, comfortably made the cut on two over after shooting a level-par 71.