Ryder Cup team-mates Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer are part of a four-way tie for the lead at the halfway point of the Qatar Masters in Doha.
While Kaymer shot a bogey-free 67, Garcia went one better with a flawless 66 as they joined Australian Marcus Fraser (67) and Portugal's in-form Ricardo Santos (70) out in front on nine-under-par.
But a bunched leaderboard sees a host of players in contention after 36 holes with no fewer than 19 players within three shots of the lead.
Five of those are just one stroke back; rising Danish star Thorbjorn Olesen, South African George Coetzee, England's Gary Lockerbie, Felipe Aguilar of Chile and 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell.
Paul Casey and Branden Grace are amongst those on six-under, while Justin Rose followed his 68 on Wednesday with a 71 to leave himself four back at five-under.
However, Paul Lawrie's defence of the title he won 12 months ago has come to a premature end as he posted a second consecutive 72 to miss the cut by a single shot.
Defending champ misses cut
But while Lawrie struggled, playing partner Garcia produced a quite superlative display of ball-striking as he found every green in regulation during a round which featured three birdies on the front nine and three more coming home.
"It was nice - I definitely felt I played a little bit better than yesterday," the 32-year-old Spaniard told Sky Sports.
Although having missed a chance to take the outright lead at the last he added: "Obviously I would have loved to hit a couple of shots better, but I gave myself a lot of chances and I can't be disappointed."
Kaymer birdied three of the course's par-three holes to boost his hopes, while Fraser - who like the German started at the tenth - made five birdies on his back nine to make significant strides.
Meanwhile, Santos, who finished fourth in Abu Dhabi last week, mixed five birdies with three bogeys in his 70 and made a fine up-and-down at the last to remain in the leading quartet.
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