Lee Westwood is back on course for victory on Sunday at the Dubai World Championship presented by: DP World following a day of amazing twists and turns at the Earth course.
Westwood leads by two shots on nine under par at the halfway stage after a second round 69, but only thanks to dramatic mistakes by current Order of Merit leader Rory McIlroy and then Padraig Harrington.
McIlroy, who started the day two behind Westwood and three shy of overnight leader Robert Allenby's total of seven under par, had led by two after a riotous front nine 31, but three-putted the 14th and 15th in coming home in 38.
That left Harrington out ahead on nine under, but he fired two balls into the water on the 620 yard par five 18th hole at the Greg Norman-designed course.
The three-time Major Championship winner had to settle for a double bogey seven as Westwood then rolled in a long birdie putt on the same hole shortly afterwards to extend his lead heading into the final two rounds.
“I'm delighted with 69,” Westwood said. “It was certainly much harder than yesterday with the wind blowing.
“Some days you struggle to get things going, the birdies don't quite come so freely and you have to just dig in there and just grind it out for a while.
“It was a case of patience being a virtue, and all good things come to those who wait. The last hole was playing tough but it's always nice to finish with a birdie, it makes dinner taste sweeter.”
McIlroy - who currently leads Westwood in The Race to Dubai standings by over €128,000 - now shares second sport with Harrington, Ross McGowan, Camilo Villegas, Louis Oosthuizen and Allenby.
20 year old McIlroy had originally threatened to romp away after his front nine.
“It was a perfect way to start to get myself right back on top of the leaderboard,” McIlroy said.
“I felt as if I played the back nine okay, just those couple of short putts on 14 and 15.
“The most disappointing thing was 14 and 15 are birdie holes and to bogey them, you are sort of losing three strokes. But I'm still in a good position and I’m positive going into the weekend.”
Making up the rest of the top ten was Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Sergio Garcia, Liang Wen-chong and Thomas Aiken in a tie for eighth on six under par.
Martin Kaymer and Ross Fisher, the other two players still in with a chance of the Order of Merit title, sat down the leaderboard on two under par and level par respectively.
Kaymer still had high hopes when he went to the turn in 34 and with two to play stood four under, but a bad chip on the 17th was followed by a trip to the water on the last. Both led to bogeys and a second successive round of 71.
“I played a little bit more solid than yesterday, but I couldn't get the putts in the hole and that was a little frustrating,” Kaymer said.
“But you can shoot six or seven under on this golf course, and I think I can do that twice, so I'm not out of it yet.”