Briny Baird shot a three-under-par 69 to take a one-stroke lead over Peter Lonard and Jay Williamson after the second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Friday.
Three players - Tommy Amour, Shigeki Maruyama and defending champion Nick Watney - were two strokes behind Baird, who reached the halfway point at eight-under 136.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington is tied for 25th on three under par.
Baird, who started the day one stroke behind first-round leader Dean Wilson, cancelled out a bogey on the first hole with a birdie on the seventh before shooting three under on the back nine.
"It's a tough golf course," Baird said. "Even if the wind doesn't blow, it's a tough course."
Baird did not produce anything as spectacular as his eagle on the sixth in the first round, when he holed a five wood from 208 yards.
His four birdies included a 20-foot putt at the 17th and he will hope to carry his momentum into the weekend and finally secure a first tournament win.
Baird has not won in 254 starts on the PGA Tour, although he has held the lead or a share of it going into the weekend on four previous occasions.
In those instances he finished tied for eighth, tied for second, tied for 30th and tied for 18th.
Williamson's record is even more unenviable, this being the 300th tour event he has entered looking for a maiden victory.
"I'm in good position but I've got to putt better," Williamson said. "I've got to be more confident with my stroke.
"I'm driving it really well and my irons have been really good but my putter needs to take a step up."
Lonard, who also was tied for second at the beginning of the round, was looking good at 10 under at one point but bogeys at the 15th, 17th and 18th forced him to settle for a 70.
First-round leader Wilson struggled through his second round, shooting a one-over 73 to finish five under and tied for fifth.
The cut line was even par and Davis Love III, Chris DiMarco, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk were among the notable names to miss out.