Scotland's Chris Doak moved into a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Scottish Open after a second consecutive 66 at Castle Stuart.
Doak, playing only his second full season on the European Tour at the age of 35, carded five birdies, an eagle and one bogey.
That moved the Glaswegian a shot clear of American Peter Uihlein (66), Dane JB Hansen (65) and Englishmen Matthew Southgate (64) and Ross Fisher (65).
Uihlein also returned a 66, containing a double-bogey seven on his third hole but also eight birdies in his last 12 holes.
The 341st-ranked Doak has just one tournament victory to his name, the 2012 Open de Lyon on the second-tier Challenge Tour, but what promises to be the biggest week of his golfing life comes just a month after another memorable moment, when he appeared in his first major - the US Open at Merion.
Doak is bidding to become the first Scot to win his national open since Colin Montgomerie in 1999, but he does have a pedigree of winning in the Highlands in his years on the Tartan Tour and believes the experience gained at Merion will prove vital.
"It's totally different to any other tournament - it makes you focus a lot more," he said. "The experience all in all was great and spurs you on to get back there.
"To hear all the Highland accents up here cheering you on, it's fantastic."
Southgate was working in Pockets snooker club in Southend just three years ago - he has three centuries to his name - and made only three halfway cuts from 11 European Tour events last year, but is relishing the task ahead this weekend.
"I like getting a bit nervous and a bit tingly, that's what I live for," the 24-year-old said after equalling the lowest round of the day with a flawless 64 containing six birdies and an eagle. "If I am shaking like a leaf on the first tee tomorrow I will be enjoying it.
"It's been a tough season. Coming out of the tour school you are thinking about making cuts but that's a bit negative. I have been looking over my shoulder the whole time rather than playing to get into contention.
"I've done a lot of work on my putting and Robert Rock has been helping me out, but it's a shame I can't lie down on the green and use a snooker cue to knock them in! Every player needs a big break so if this can be mine bring it on."
Uihlein, a 23-year-old former world No 1 amateur, hopes he can learn from his experience at the Irish Open two weeks ago, when he shared the lead at halfway but never recovered from fluffing a chip and missing a two-foot putt to double-bogey the third hole on his way to a third round of 74.
"It's all about trying to get into contention and slow everything down and work at my own pace," Uihlein said. "I feel like a couple of times I just keep getting too quick and my mind races a little too fast.
"I feel the more I can get myself into that position, the slower I can make things."