Nathan Holman produced a strong finish to his second round to move into a two-shot lead at the halfway mark in the inaugural Maybank Championship Malaysia.
The Australian topped the leaderboard by just one shot on seven under after the first round, but was dislodged in the morning session on Friday when Danny Willett, Jorge Campillo, Soomin Lee and Miguel Tabuena got to eight under.
But Holman, who claimed a first European Tour title by winning the Australian PGA Championship in his homeland two months ago, shot a six-under 65 to ensure he is the man to catch heading into the weekend.
The 24-year-old made three birdies on the front nine at Royal Selangor Golf Club and another at the 13th before a first bogey of the week at 14 dropped him back to 10 under.
Holman took that setback in his stride, though, reeling off three birdies in a row - the last of which came courtesy of an impressive 20-foot putt - from the 15th to move to 13 under.
Richard Bland surged into second place as a result of a six-under 65 which took the Englishman to 11 under for the week.
Bland is yet to drop a shot in the Kuala Lumpur tournament - which is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours - and six birdies enhanced his chances of finally claiming a victory at the 378th time of asking.
Willett, eyeing back-to-back victories after his Dubai Desert Classic triumph, is one of four players five shots off the pace after carding a second round of 69 despite struggling with illness.
The world number 13 led by two shots when he drained a 15-foot birdie putt at the fifth after starting on the back nine, but dropped his second shot of the round at the seventh to leave himself with work to do over the weekend.
Lee, featuring in a European Tour event for only the second time, followed up his opening 66 with a 68, while Tabuena was also three under for his second round and Campillo had to settle for a two-under 69.
Casey O'Toole conjured up a hole in one at the par-three 12th in his first European Tour event, but there was more misery for Martin Kaymer as the two-time major-winner missed a second-successive cut.