Gary Boyd of England and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet of France shared the second-round lead of the Volvo China Open after shooting 5-under 67s Friday to move to 11 under.
Neither 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 had a 67.
Grace, already a two-time winner on the tour this year, was a stroke 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's best showing came as 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 the links-style Binhai Lake, this week’s host course.
''I like the course and the way I have been driving over the first two days,'' Grace 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 7 (feet) and managed to make the eagle putt.''
Boyd, 25, started at the 10th but had a disappointing beginning when he failed to replicate Thursday's eagle at the 12th and dropped a shot on this occasion.
It would be his only blemish, though, as he gained the shot back at the 18th and then carded five birdies on the front nine. His standout shot came at the fourth, when a superb approach out of the rough left him with a tap-in for a birdie.
Gonnet carded six birdies and a solitary bogey at the 13th hole.
A 67 left Nicolas Colsaerts on his own at 9 under. The Belgian eagled the second and added five birdies and two bogeys on his 5-under-par card.
Korean Choi Jin-ho also joined the trend for 67s to finish at 8 under, level with Australian Marcus Fraser and Spain's Ignacio Garrido, who both made 3-under 69s. A large group follows at 7 under, including England's Danny Willett and Oliver Wilson.
Scotland's Scott Jamieson birdied the last three holes to finish inside the 2-under-par cut with a stroke to spare, while Ian Poulter was one of a host of players right on the line. The likes of Marcel Siem, Simon Khan and Ross Fisher missed out by one shot at 1 under.
History-making 13-year-old Guan Tian-lin of China failed to make the cut. After becoming the youngest golfer to ever 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.
He did manage birdies at the 18th and seventh, though, and his final 12-over total left him ahead of his more experienced compatriots Deng Le-jun, Zhang Yi-ming and Alexander Chen as well as Scotland's Marc Warren.