Local man James Morrison was out on his own in front as world number one Rory McIlroy headed towards a second successive missed cut at Wentworth today.
Morrison, who switched to golf after playing for the England youth cricket team alongside Alastair Cook and Tim Bresnan, added a sparkling 64 to his opening 68.
At 12 under par he was four clear of world number two Luke Donald, who won the title at six under last year, and Scot David Drysdale.
McIlroy, on the other hand, slumped to four over par and probably needed four birdies in the last eight holes to avoid another early exit two weeks after crashing out of the Players Championship in Florida.
Third-ranked Lee Westwood, beaten in a play-off by Donald 12 months ago, was also in danger of heading home, a double bogey on the seventh and bogey at the short 10th dropping him to level par, the expected cut mark.
Morrison, 236th in the world, jumped out of the shadows by following six birdies with a 25-foot eagle putt on the 539-yard last.
His story is a remarkable one. The 27-year-old did not start golf until he was 16, but went from 18-handicap to scratch in 10 months.
That prompted him to give up cricket, his final game for Surrey Under-17s being an innings of 114 not out.
"I haven't really looked back," he said.
"Playing golf is better than standing in the field all day."
The money is better too. He has already won over around £750,000 despite his only Tour title being the relatively minor Madeira Irelands Open in 2010 - and first prize this weekend is almost £600,000.
Donald is form favourite for it, however, after his second successive 68.
It was surely all over for McIlroy after he drove not just into the trees, but also into a ditch at the long 12th - the hole where he threw a club as he ran up a six in his opening 74.
This time he kept a lid on his anger, but his head was down as he took a penalty drop, chopped out, found a bunker with his fourth and did well to limit the damage to another bogey six.
At seven over he was joint 131st in a field of 150. Only the top 65 and ties go through to the last two rounds and even a birdie at each of the remaining six holes was probably not enough.