Padraig Harrington reacted to one record being equalled by matching one of his own.
The three-time major winner was faced with the daunting prospect of making up 12 shots after Italian Francesco Molinari added a morning 66 to his opening 63 at the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura.
Fifteen under par at halfway equalled the lowest total of the European Tour season, but despite the wind picking up just as he resumed Harrington reduced his deficit to only two with a spectacular 62.
The 38-year-old Dubliner even had a putt on the last to lower his all-time best round on the circuit, but on his own admission mishit it from 18 feet.
“Pity I didn't give it a better run,” he said. “I played the tough holes really well and that gave me the opportunity to shoot a really good score. It could even have been the magic number.”
Nobody has ever managed a 59 in Europe. From joint 32nd place overnight — his first thought was to make sure he made the cut — Harrington goes into the weekend in third spot.
Such has been the birdie barrage so far, though, that there was a chance Molinari would not even stay out in front on his own.
He was joined later when South African Charl Schwartzel had a hat-trick of birdies from the 15th, but then came a closing bogey for a second successive 65.
Even though he felt uncomfortable with his putting Harrington also turned in 31, but four successive birdies from the 14th turned it into a special round.
In the race for the Order of Merit title Lee Westwood looks to have a real opportunity to overtake Rory McIlroy at the top.
A 67 left Westwood in joint sixth spot on 11 under, while putting problems restricted 20-year-old McIlroy to a 70 and he is six strokes further back. The Ulsterman then denied he has decided to join the US PGA Tour next season, saying he was “80 per cent sure” to stick to Europe.
Staying on the Tour will allow him to play majors, world championships and a few other events in the States.
"I'm happy with that," said the Holywood youngster. "Fifteen (the minimum he would have to play as a PGA Tour member) is not hard to do, but I don't want to be going back and forth.
"I've probably made my decision, but I've not announced anything yet."
There was also a 70 from Justin Rose as he slipped back from second place to 11th. The 29-year-old blamed some of his waywardness off the tee on a stiff neck caused, he believed, by thin pillows.
The cut fell at four under, which also equalled the European Tour low this season, and so Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie made it with only one shot to spare along with McIlroy after two bogeys in the last three holes.
Among those who crashed out were Graeme McDowell, Ross Fisher and Robert Karlsson.
Leader Molinari, meanwhile, has an extra reason for wanting to shine this week — to open the gap again between himself and his older brother on the world rankings. Edoardo is top of the second tier Challenge Tour and has improved to 112th. Francesco is 70th.