Ross McGowan fired an eight-under-par 64 to cruise to the top of the leaderboard after the fifth and penultimate round of Q-School at PGA Catalunya in Spain.
McGowan, who won the Madrid Masters in 2008, has struggled with injury over the past few years after previously being a regular on the European Tour.
However, it seems almost certain that the 33-year-old from Surrey will regain his tour status for 2016.
A total of 78 players advanced following the four-round cut as the quest to earn one of 25 European Tour cards for next season intensified.
Another Englishman having a good week is Matthew Southgate, who is currently T7 and five shots off the lead.
Southgate was diagnosed with testicular cancer earlier this year; meanwhile his niece is being treated for ongoing leukaemia.
McGowan currently shares his lead of 17 under-par with American Daniel Im. Due to his illness Southgate couldn’t play golf for several weeks during the peak of the season when he should have been playing on the Challenge Tour.
However, one more solid round and he will find himself playing European Tour golf come the new season.
Walker Cup star Paul Dunne sits seven back and within the places eligible for a card, alongside current highest positioned amateur Marcus Kinhult of Sweden.
Several former European Tour winners currently sit very close to the cut-off line of top 25 and ties.
Richard Finch and David Dixon are both in T24 therefore would acquire their tour card in this position yet will have a nerve-filled day with little margin for error.
Mark Foster and Edoardo Molinari currently sit at -4 – two shots away from the places eligible for a tour card.