Andy Sullivan remained the man to catch as he targeted a second low-scoring victory of the season in the Golf in Dubai Championship.
Sullivan added a second round of 66 to his opening 61 at Jumeirah Golf Estates for a halfway total of 17-under-par, just one shot off the European Tour record set by four-time major winner Ernie Els in the 2004 Heineken Classic.
That gave Sullivan, who shot 27-under to win the English Championship in August, a three-shot lead over fellow Englishmen Matt Wallace and Ross Fisher, with Scotland’s Craig Howie, France’s Antoine Rozner and Germany’s Max Schmitt on 12 under.
Australian Scott Hend had a better day than his opening 75 but his one-under 71 was not enough to enable him to make the cut for the weekend.
“If you can ever say this, I feel like I’ve got the golf ball under some sort of control at the moment,” Sullivan said after a round containing an eagle, five birdies and a solitary bogey.
“There’s not many pins I can’t get at at the moment, which is a nice feeling to have. It doesn’t happen too often in the season.”
Sullivan admitted he was aware of the supposed difficulty in following one low score with another, adding: “I spoke about it to my psychologist Lee Crombleholme before I went out.
“It was basically just to stay patient and try to give myself as many chances as possible.
“It is hard because when I was three under through nine it didn’t feel as good as yesterday, but you know you’re still on the right track. I knew I was swinging it well and if I could keep giving myself opportunities I could make a few coming in.”
Wallace was similarly patient after playing his first six holes in one over par, the 30-year-old responding with an eagle on the par-five seventh and four birdies to return a 67.
Howie suffered a nightmare first round in the United Arab Emirates when he carded a 94 as an amateur in Abu Dhabi in 2013, but the 26-year-old continued to enjoy a far more enjoyable experience by adding a 68 to his opening 64.