Low scores were again the order of the day at the ASI Scottish Open with Rory McIlroy carding a successive 67 but that still leaves him six shots off the lead.
England's Lee Slattery, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, with a round of 61 and South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen head the field at the half-way mark on 14 under, two clear of 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson and Nino Bertasio.
There was disappointment for Paul Dunne, however, as a round of 68 left him one shy of the five-under cut mark.
The Greystones native needed a top-10 finish at The Renaissance Club to have any chance of securing a spot at Royal Portrush next week.
Pádraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell also won't be around for the weekend after finishing at three under and even par respectively.
McIlroy, now the only Irish player still standing, admits he will need to reproduce the flying finish which gave him victory in the Canadian Open to win another national title in Scotland.
"It looks like I am going to have to pick up the pace this weekend if I want to have a chance to win," said McIlroy, who shot rounds of 64 and 61 over the weekend in Ontario a month ago.
"But I did it in Canada and my game feels as good now as it did then."
Shot of the day came from Welshman Bradley Dredge who won a BMW X7 worth almost £90,000 for a hole-in-one on the 17th during a round of 63.
Lee Slattery had set the early clubhouse target after a second successive 64 which put him in pole position to claim one of the three qualifying places available for Portrush.
"That was the primary goal for the week because if you qualify for the Open that means you've had a good week and anything else is a bonus," said Slattery, who shot 65 in the first round of the Irish Open last week but faded to a tie for 27th.
"Last week I started so well but did not follow it up so to get out there and start fast today was the key."
Erik Van Rooyen matched Slattery's 64 but the lowest round of the day, and the week so far had come from the in-form Wiesberger, who birdied his last five holes in an inward half of 29 to set a new course record of 61.
Wiesberger, who was runner-up to Jon Rahm at Lahinch on Sunday, missed seven months of last season after wrist surgery and said: "It's been tough the last year. Coming off injury it's been hard, but winning in Denmark a couple of weeks ago is a big boost to me.
"I really enjoy my time out on the golf course again. Maybe take it not as serious as I've done before and let it go and that really helped me."