Gutsy Paul McGinley produced a brave back nine charge to make the cut on the limit in the TCL Classic.
The Dubliner reeled off four birdies in a homeward run of 32 en route to a five under par 67 at Yalong Bay.
A 20 footer at the 17th proved to be the vital birdie for the three-time Ryder Cup hero in his bid to haul himself up the world rankings again after slumping to 97th this week.
But the Irish ace's second round effort was still only good enough to make the cut bang on the five under par mark.
And while he was relieved to survive, it still left him a massive 12 shots behind runaway leader Chapchai Nirat.
The in-form Thai, 23, added a six under par 66 to his course record 61 to double his overnight lead from three to six strokes at 17 under par.
And that was just one stroke shy of the European Tour record halfway lead of seven shots - set by Ernie Els in the 2004 Heineken Classic at Royal Melbourne.
Nirat said: "My plan was just to keep it on the fairway, hit the green, putt and make as few mistakes as possible. I'm happy with my golf right now.
"I feel comfortable but I still feel pressure because I know that on a course like this, it is possible for someone to catch me. I still need to shoot low for the next two rounds and make as few mistakes as possible."
Five players share second place on 11 under - Aussie trio David Bransdon, Simon Nash and Adam Blyth, Jean Baptiste Gonnet of France and Argentina's Rafael Echenique.
But they know that they could be facing an uphill battle if Nirat produces another round in the mid-60s today.
England's Nick Dougherty fired a six under par 66 but still found himself eight shots adrift of Nirat on nine under par.
And he confessed: "All we can hope is that he doesn't go bananas at the weekend, if that happens then it's all over for the rest of us.
"There's a lot of birdies out there and every time you don't make one you feel you've given up a good opportunity."
It's already over for three of the four Irishmen in action as Damien McGrane, Michael Hoey and David Higgins all missed the halfway cut.
Hoey shot a 70 and McGrane a 71 but both missed by a single shot on four under par.
It was an even tougher day at the office for Waterville man Higgins, who was three under par for the tournament and the day with nine holes to play.
But he dropped five shots coming home with birdies at the 12th and 14th cancelled out by five bogeys and a double bogey.
McGinley, 40, needed to go low after opening with a disappointing 72.
He got off the the perfect start with a birdie at the first and after dropping a shot at the second, he was left with a mountain to climb.
But he dug deep and birdied the fourth to turn in one under par before birdies at the 10th, 12th, 13th and 17th helped him make it into the weekend with nothing to spare.