Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, put out of last year's Open by a scooter crash, found top gear for the second time this week to boost his Ryder Cup chances.
Back at the Royal Lytham course where he watched the 1996 championship as a 13-year-old competitor in the Junior Open, Colsaerts repeated his opening 65 today to take the early clubhouse lead on one under par.
Despite the strong winds forecast this afternoon - with gusts of up to 35mph possible - that was unlikely to trouble the leaders with Adam Scott on 11 under, but a top-10 finish to secure his place in the Open next year was a distinct possibility.
The world ranking points would also increase his chances of a Ryder Cup debut in Chicago in September, especially with one of his rivals for a place - playing partner Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano - returning a 73 today.
Europe's Ryder Cup team will be finalised on August 26, but when asked about the effect today could have, the 29-year-old said: "I know it's going to be quite a jump, but then again there's still five weeks to go and there's still a lot of chances for me as well as the others to play well and shake things up. So I'd rather not think about it."
Colsaerts hired the fateful scooter in Sandwich last summer because he thought there could be traffic jams but he then came off it, clipping a kerb and injuring his elbow.
Graeme McDowell, beaten by Colsaerts in the final of the Volvo Match Play in Spain earlier this season, shared second place with American Brandt Snedeker on seven under par, with 14-time major champion Tiger Woods a further shot back on six under.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy's disappointing week had come to an end two hours before the last group were due to tee off. The world number two had been joint fifth after an opening 67, but followed that with rounds of 75, 73 and 73 to finish eight over par. World number three Lee Westwood was six over for the championship with two holes remaining.
Scott's four-shot lead was instantly trimmed when he failed to get up and down from the back of the first green, while playing partner McDowell did save par after pulling his tee-shot well wide of the target.
Snedeker and Woods opened with two pars to lie three and four behind respectively, with Woods saving par on the second thanks to an excellent recovery from a greenside bunker.