Scotland’s Paul Lawrie shot a faultless 65, seven under par, to move two shots clear of the field at the halfway stage of the Qatar Masters at the Doha Club.
His round, equalling the best of the week, included seven birdies and took him to 11 under par, two shots clear of England’s John Bickerton, Frenchman Jean Van De Velde and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.
It was the fifth time Lawrie has shot 65, the most notable of which was in the final round of the 1993 Open Championship when he holed a three iron at the 17th to finish sixth behind Greg Norman. Over the winter, after the birth of his second son Michael on Christmas Day, Lawrie has turned to his friend and former Tour player Adam Hunter who has now taken to coaching full time at the Scottish National Golf Centre near St Andrews.
"He is a good friend and the time just seemed right to go and see him," said Lawrie, winner of the 1996 Open Catalonia. "I feel fantastic and in control. I’ve not made a bogey in 36 holes and only looked like making one once."
Two shots adrift is Challenge Tour graduate John Bickerton whose round of 67 included a hole-in-one with a 3-iron on the 198-yards par three 13th, his fourth hole, and then four consecutive birdies from the 16th Bickerton spent the winter reading "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" to help with his positive thinking. "I’m much more focused on the course and feel good," he said. He also played ten tournaments on the mini tour in Florida, winning five of them.
Also on nine under par is Van De Velde who shot a 66 and Kjeldsen, who also shot a 65. Kjeldsen kept his playing privileges for the 1999 European Tour after finishing 115th in the Volvo Order of Merit with just £250 between himself and a trip to the Qualifying School.
He said: "I watched everyone playing in the Belgacom Open - it was horrible watching what everyone else was doing and hoping I had done enough to keep my card."
Kjeldsen put his good form down to practising with compatriot Thomas Björn in Dubai along with Sven Strüver and Patrik Sjöland in July.