Gary Boyd of England and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet of France shared the second-round lead of the China Open after shooting 5-under 67s to move to 11-under totals on Friday.
Neither leader has won on the European Tour, and they will start the third round at Binhai Lake one shot clear of Branden Grace of South Africa, who also carded a 67.
Grace, already a two-time winner on the tour this year, was only a shot ahead of defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium.
Boyd's best finish in three years on the tour is runner-up at last year's Italian Open. Gonnet has to go back five years to his best finish, runner-up at the 2007 Scandinavian Masters.
Boyd feels a recent change of mindset could help him over the final two rounds.
''I have been playing pretty well and I have just trusted what I have been working on with my old coach two weeks ago,'' he said. ''Before that I was a bit lost in too many thoughts and trying too many different things for a while and that is not something that you want to be doing in tournament golf. It is starting to pay off this week.''
However both of the leaders will be wary of the two men immediately behind them on the leaderboard.
Grace won the Volvo Champions in January at Fancourt and the South African course, with its exposure to winds, is very similar in layout to Binhai Lake.
That suits Colsaerts.
''I like the course and the way I have been driving over the first two days,'' Colsaerts said. ''It allows me to take some lines that other guys can't because of my length off the tee.
''The second was a good example of that today. I hit the drive miles and was able to take the corner out and just had a 7-iron approach. I hit that to about seven (feet) and managed to make the eagle putt.''
History-making 13-year-old Guan Tian-lin of China failed to make the cut.
After becoming the youngest player ever to play in a European Tour event, he followed his first-round 77 with a 79, and at 12 over was 14 shots outside the 2 under cutline.