Will Claxton carded a three-under 69 Friday to extend his lead to two strokes after three rounds of PGA Tour Q School.
Claxton completed 54 holes at 13-under-par-203. The 30-year-old had just one top-20 finish in nine Nationwide Tour starts in 2011.
Seung-yul Noh fired an eight-under 64 to soar into a share of second place at minus-11. He was joined there by Bobby Gates (68) and Matt Jones (70).
Billy Hurley III (70) and two-time Reno-Tahoe Open winner Vaughn Taylor (69) are tied for fifth at 10-under-par 206.
Players are playing three rounds each on the Nicklaus Tournament Course and TPC Stadium Course at PGA West. The field is halfway through the six-round marathon in which they are battling to finish in the top 25. That group will earn their PGA Tour cards for 2012.
The next number of finishers nearest 50 after the Qualifying Tournament will earn fully exempt Nationwide Tour cards for 2012 and the remainder of the field will receive conditional Nationwide Tour status.
Sixteen of the top 18 players on the leaderboard teed it up on the Stadium Course on Friday.
Claxton started with four straight pars. After converting a birdie try at the fifth, he gave that stroke right back with a bogey on No. 6. Claxton atoned for that error with birdies on seven and eight to move to 12-under.
After a pair of pars, Claxton birdied the par-five 11th. However, he stumbled to a bogey at the 13th. Claxton erased that mistake with a birdie on 14. He parred the final four holes to finish two clear.
Noh started on the back nine at the Stadium Course and collected three birdies in a four-hole span from the 11th. He sank back-to-back birdie tries at 17 and 18 to turn minus-eight. Noh had three birdies from the third to sixth to jump into a share of second.
There are several former major winners in the field this week trying to reclaim past glory.
Rich Beem, the 2002 PGA Champion, shot 67 to soar into a share of 33rd at five-under-par 211. He is just one stroke outside the top 25.
Two-time U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen carded a 68 and climbed 35 spots into a share of 73rd at minus-two.
Shaun Micheel, the 2003 PGA Champion, tripped to a 74 and tumbled into tie for 107th at even-par 216.
NOTES: Claxton has one previous PGA Tour start and that came at the 2011 Transitions Championship, where he tied for 67th...Chris Tidland fired a seven-under 65 to soar from a share of 101st into a tie for 27th...On the other side of the scoreboard, Andre Stolz struggled to a 10-over 82 and tumbled from a share of 81st into 167th place.