Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay moved into the top five at the halfway stage of the Volvo China Open thanks to a second round of four-under-par 68.
However, it was the unheralded Frenchman Alexander Levy, the world number 282, who stole the show with a course record 10-under-par 62 to race into a four-shot lead on 130 at the Genzon club, Shenzhen.
Ramsay was pleased to improve upon his first-round score of 69 by a stroke and has now set his sights on a high finish over the weekend.
He said: “I like playing in Asia. I have done well here in the past. I have had good finishes in Singapore and Korea and it would be nice to get one in China.
“I played really steadily. It sounds funny but I didn’t really feel under pressure.
“I gave myself a lot of chances and 68 was a fair reflection. It could have been a little bit lower but I am in a really good position after two rounds.
“The course is very fair. If you are on the fairway you can attack the flag but the minute you miss the fairway you are left with a very tricky shot.
“Alexander shot quite a few under today, so it shows that there is a score out there.”
Levy, who has had only two top-10 finishes in 34 previous European Tour events, carded eight birdies and an eagle in a blemish-free round which catapulted him into contention.
The 23-year-old said: “It is a great round for me. I played unbelievably. It’s the first time I have played like that. I played really well and made a lot of putts to make the lowest score of my career.”
World number 303 Adrian Otaegui is one stroke behind after a 66. Fellow Spaniard Alvaro Quiros is third on nine under after a 68 and Levy’s friend and compatriot Raphael Jacquelin is one back following a 67.
Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin, the men who led Europe and the United States respectively in the dramatic 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort, are preparing to renew their rivalry on Welsh soil after confirming they will be part of the field for the British Senior Open championship at Royal Porthcawl, Wales, from July 24 to 27.
The pair will be joined at the Bridgend Links by the current US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson as well as one of Montgomerie’s winning team, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who will make his debut in the British Senior Open.
Montgomerie made his own first appearance in the prestigious championship at Royal Birkdale last year, finishing tied 21st.
The 50-year-old said: “We’re all excited to go to Royal Porthcawl. It’s the first time the Senior Open has gone to Wales and I hear it is a fantastic golf course.”