Carl Pettersson carded a course record nine-under-par 61 at the Wyndham Championship to match the record low score for the first 36 holes of a PGA Tour event.
Taking advantage of vulnerable Sedgefield in ideal morning conditions, the North Carolina-based Swede, who went to high school here in Greensboro, plundered 11 birdies and two bogeys to post a 15-under 125 halfway total.
He earned a three-stroke lead over Garrett Willis, with Scott McCarron four shots back and Kevin Streelman trailing by five.
Pettersson narrowly failed to make the European Ryder Cup team two years ago, but, with less than three weeks until the team is picked for the biennial showdown with the United States, he may have played himself into contention.
"I was close last time and I kept looking at (the rankings), so I'm trying to forget about it," he said.
"I would love to play in it but I'm just trying to play well here and if I play well it will take care of itself. It's not like I've done anything spectacular this year (but) a win here would be nice."
Pettersson is unlikely to win an automatic spot on the European team, even if he wins this week, because he is 17th on the world points list, with only the top five earning selection.
However, he could come into consideration for one of captain Nick Faldo's two wild card picks.
After going eight-under for the day through 14 holes, Pettersson briefly thought about the possibility of shooting 59, only to promptly bogey the par-five 15th after taking four shots to hole out from 70 feet.
"I could have played a safe (third shot) pitch out to about 15 feet, but I had momentum with me and it wasn't that hard a shot," he said.
"I chunked it in the bunker and then didn't get up and down, but it was nice to come back with birdies on 16 and 17 to end the round on a good note."
Pettersson's score matched the lowest of his PGA Tour career, his other 61 coming on the Palm course at Disney World, a par-72 layout that the pros routinely take apart in the tour's annual fall stop.
"I'm thrilled with the way I'm playing but you can't relax until Sunday night," said the two-time PGA Tour winner.
"I knew at the beginning of the week it was going to be a low scoring week, just because you have a lot of wedges, eight irons and nine irons (and) the two par fives are very reachable."
Willis, meanwhile, could not match Pettersson's heroics, but a 64 was nothing to be ashamed of.
"I was glad Carl ran out of holes," said Willis, the 2001 Tucson champion, whose exempt status as a past champion is so low on the pecking order that he has played only 10 tournaments this year.
The cut fell at three-under 137 and a tournament that already lacked star power lost its only world top 20 player when Vijay Singh bowed out.
However, John Daly, always an attraction, even if only as a side-show, survived with nothing to spare.