Liam Bond is ranked 1,528th in the world and only got into the tournament at the last minute, but the 43-year-old Welshman found himself holding the halfway lead in the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
Bond received a phone call telling him he was in the £1.8 million event on Wednesday afternoon, but made the most of his opportunity with rounds of 69 and 68 to finish five under par, one shot clear of overnight leader Espen Kofstad and South African Tjaart van der Walt.
Norwegian Kofstad could only add a second-round 74 to his opening 64 to finish four under, one ahead of playing partner and European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who carded four birdies and two bogeys in a 69.
“I’m playing way better than when I had my card in 2011,” said Bond, whose career earnings of around £100,000 are dwarfed by the first prize here of £300,000, not to mention the Ryder Cup points on offer in the first qualifying event.
“If I was on tour this year I would be loving it but I put myself under a lot of pressure when I was on the tour.
“I was trying to work harder and hit more balls and everything was under close scrutiny.
“I feel my game is still pretty good and I only found out I was playing on Wednesday afternoon so I didn’t have any time to over-prepare like I have done in the past.”
McGinley has already ruled himself out of playing in the Ryder Cup next year but added: “I’m keen to play well to get into better tournaments so I can play alongside my players.”
England’s Graeme Storm was alongside McGinley on three under after a 68.