He managed five birdies in a 69 to move to nine under, one stroke ahead of the overnight leader, Malcolm Mackenzie, and Scotland's promising Dean Robertson.
"It was lot tougher out there than yesterday. It is difficult to hole putts when it's gusty. Today everyone is a couple of shots higher. When it gets windy like that all you want to do is keep the ball in play."
Mackenzie's form has picked up in recent weeks. He came 20th in the German Open last week after finishing 13th in the Murphy's English Open at Forest of Arden. But he was disappointed to follow his opening 64 with a level- par 72.
Robertson, who started the day at six under, moved into contention with another mature performance. He almost grabbed a hole-in-one at the 363- yard 18th when his drive landed six feet behind the hole. Unfortunately for him he missed for an eagle. He said: "I've had four top 10 finishes but I have not been in contention before."
Three players are on seven under, Lee Westwood, Richard Boxall and the South African, Roger Wessels.
Westwood, a former British Youth champion, finished 43rd in the Order of Merit last season after stepping up from qualifying school but is currently 86th.
The defending champion, Paul Curry, and David Ray, who shared the lead on Thursday with Mackenzie, both slipped back. Curry finished with a 74 while Ray could only manage a 77.
n Julie Hall, a former champion, secured a comprehensive 7 and 6 victory over Haddington's Lesley Nicholson in the British Women's Amateur Championship to set up a semi-final meeting with Curtis Cup player Janice Moodie in Portrush today. Moodie beat France's Cathy Schmitt 3 and 2 after holing an 18-foot putt from just off the green for a birdie to go ahead for the first time at the 12th. Three times Irish national champion Eileen Rose Power, of Kilkenny, lost at the 19th to France's Kristel Mourgue D'Algue.
Scores, Sporting Digest, page 24