Mathias Grönberg of Sweden and Dutchman Rolf Muntz moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage of the Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club on a day when the near gale force winds sent scores soaring.
However Grönberg and Muntz showed no discomfort in the tough conditions, with the Swede shooting a two under par 70 and Muntz a 73 for two round total of 141, three under par.
They lead by one stroke from Irishman Paul McGinley, who carded an impressive 70 early in the day for a total of 142 with Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and Russell Claydon a further stroke behind on 143.
Grönberg, winner of the South African Open title in January, is now a strong favourite to secure a place in the Continent of Europe team for the Seve Ballesteros Trophy at Sunningdale in April.
At the moment, he is the leading eligible Continental player from the 2000 Volvo Order of Merit and he said: “I am thinking very much about going to Brazil to play in the two tournaments there and hopefully get into the team.
“I grew up playing football and I like playing in teams so I want to be involved. I have to play very well and hope than someone doesn’t go past me.”
Grönberg, who has three European Tour titles on his name, admitted that winning the South African Open had raised his sights. He added: “My goal is to be the best player on the European Tour, to be No.1. This year it is almost impossible but if I continue to play well I might be able to play myself into the world championship events and give myself a chance from there.”
Muntz, meanwhile, joked: “I was nearly going to take off in that wind. It was very difficult and very tough. However my game is getting there and I’m very happy with this position.
“I lost a play-off for the Scottish PGA so I couldn’t have got any closer to a victory. Nobody finished ahead of me. It was a good experience.”
McGinley, out in the worst of the weather in the morning, was content with his 70 which moved him into third place on his own. McGinley is also chasing a place in the Ballesteros Trophy and he puts his improved form this season to a combination of three things – equipment, swing and fitness.
Jamie Spence, who contended for the Dubai Desert Classic last week, took the short route to a tie for 11th place. He shot a 71 for 145 with an eagle three at the 18th and, even more impressively, a hole in one with a two iron at the 13th. He revealed it was the first in 25 years of playing golf and he said: “It was beginning to annoy me – especially as my caddie, Janet, has had six!”
At the end of the day, only five players were under par while no-one managed to break 70. A total of 79 players survived the cut which fell on 150, six over par.