By Brian Keogh
Late bloomer Simon Thornton moved into contention for a massive pay-day in the Celtic Manor Wales Open.
The Royal County Down assistant professional, 30, is playing in just his seventh full European Tour event.
But he can land a winner's cheque for €368,812 after a brilliant five under par 64 left him just three shots behind leader Mads Vibe-Hastrup.
Dane Vibe-Hastrup carded a six under par 63 to lead by a shot from Scots Alastair Forsyth and Steven O'Hara and Aussie Brett Rumford on eight under par.
And while there are 31 players within four shots of the lead, Thornton is brilliantly placed to strike.
The Yorkshire-born assistant, who has now taken out Irish citzenship, had three birdies and an eagle to join Kilkenny's Gary Murphy on five under par.
Murphy could also do with a good week as he sits 115th in the money list after 14 events.
But he built on his opening 68 with a five birdies and just one error in a fine 65 at the Roman Road course
Peter Lawrie added a level par 69 to his opening 66 to sit just five strokes off the pace on three under par.
But Damien McGrane and Graeme McDowell missed the cut for the second week running.
Knightsbrook professional McGrane was always on the back foot after a double bogey at his second hole and while he eventually carded a level par 69 his three over par total left him well short of safety.
McDowell finished a shot further back on four over despite a brilliant late rally.
Three over par for his round after 11 holes, the Ulsterman birdied the 13th and picked up three birdies at the last three holes for a 68.