Three-time champion Simon Dyson equalled his own course record in the KLM Open, but still found himself trailing Spanish duo Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal in Zandvoort.
Dyson carded a seven-under-par 63 at Kennemer Golf Club, matching the record held by himself and four other players since 2009, to record a halfway total of eight under par, one behind Jimenez and his good friend Larrazabal.
Jimenez, already the oldest winner in European Tour history, added a 67 to his opening 64 as he looks to claim his 20th Tour title and 13th since turning 40.
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is just four off the lead after a birdie on the 18th meant he added a 67 to his opening 68, but three-time major winner Padraig Harrington missed the cut after rounds of 71 and 69 left him level par.
Damien McGrane is level with McGinley on five under after carding a level-par second round, while Shane Lowry is three under at the half-way stage.
Simon Thornton also made the cut on two under, while Kevin Phelan, David Higgins (both -1), Peter Lawrie (level) and Gareth Maybin (+3) will not play at the weekend.
"This course suits me," said the 49-year-old Jimenez, who broke his leg in a skiing accident shortly after his win in the Hong Kong Open aged 48 and 318 days last November.
"It's not a very long course but you have to have the ball in position," he added. "I like this kind of links course and I feel very comfortable with my game."
Larrazabal was the only player able to overtake Jimenez when he played his first 12 holes in five under par, but a bogey at the 16th meant he had to settle for a 66 and a share of the lead.
The 30-year-old, who has missed the cut in his last six events since finishing fourth in the Irish Open in June, said: "I'm happy, I'm hitting the ball as good as ever. I don't know how many putts I missed today on that back nine.
"But I am on top of the leaderboard at the moment, the conditions were not good this afternoon, it was raining all the way so I am very happy with my game."
As for playing with Jimenez, Larrazabal added: "It's always good, we spend many practice rounds together, maybe 95 per cent we play together. We know each other well and have a lot of fun. We have a lot of dinners together."
Dyson, whose victories at Kennemer in 2006 and 2009 both came in play-offs, carded seven birdies in a flawless round and his only dropped shots of the week so far came with a double-bogey six on his first hole of the opening round.
"I've done well in previous years and played well around it today," Dyson told Sky Sports. "I played really solid apart from the last two holes and never looked like making bogey.
"I hit a poor tee shot on the eighth, which was my 17th, and the lie determined the shot I had to play. I had quite a lot of room to pitch it on the green but had a terrible lie so had to play a little bump and run, a proper links shot, and managed to play it well.
"On the last I didn't quite strike the chip as I wanted to but it was nice to roll the putt in and have a bogey-free round."
England's Oliver Fisher celebrated his 25th birthday with a round of 65 to join Dyson and France's Julien Quesne on eight under par, with Scotland's David Drysdale seven under after a 64 featuring five birdies and an eagle.
Spain's Jorge Campillo was set to establish a new course record of 62 when he reached the 18th green eight under for the day, but a three-putt bogey meant he had to settle for a 63 and a share of seventh on six under.