Brett Rumford goes into the weekend with a one shot advantage at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy, but a host of big names are queueing up to challenge him.
European Number One Lee Westwood and former caddie Oliver Wilson are both well placed, with just a two shot deficit to second round leader Rumford.
Out in front, Australian Rumford set the midway mark at nine under par after dropping just one shot in carding the best round of a windswept week as a six under par 66 helped the Perth native open up a one shot lead over Bradley Dredge.
And World Number 360 Rumford hopes taking the halfway lead will be the shape of things to come having returned to Europe last season following a disappointing season on the US PGA Tour after winning the 2007 Omega European Masters.
“My goal is the world ranking points at the moment to get my ranking up higher,” he said. “Looking back on it, I should have gone back to the Qualifying School in 2009 and given it another crack.
“The first year over in the States after never playing there was a pretty tough goal to try and maintain a Tour card. I thought I would excel, a few players have done that, but it’s very difficult.”
Joint overnight leader Dredge was also left disappointed with a three under 69 after failing to take full advantage of calm conditions following Thursday’s high winds as the Welshman only made his move up the leaderboard with two birdies over his final three holes.
Dredge though is hoping to use the experience of claiming second at the halfway stage of last year’s Omega European Masters before being forced to settle for a runner-up finish in his best finish of 2009 to good effect this weekend in Doha.
“Inconsistency has been an issue,” said Dredge. “But I’m working my best but it was nice to churn out a score.
“Obviously over the weekend some consistent ball striking would be nice to keep myself in it.”
Joint overnight leader Wilson, who caddied for then County champion Westwood some 20 years ago, was left ‘clueless’ by the greens at Doha Golf Club but picked up two late birdies in a bogey free 70 to join the World Number Four at seven under par.
Westwood, 36, struggled at times to maintain control of his swing but continued to reap the benefits of a new set of irons to card a satisfying three under 69.
“I haven’t holed anything, but I’m still feeling solid over holing out so I’m definitely getting better and maybe something will click,” said 29 year old Wilson. “It was getting frustrating, but it was nice to get something out of the round at the end.”
Westwood recalls a moment during his meeting with a young Wilson when he was handed a driver for a reachable 280 yard par four only for the Worksop golfer to fly the green by 30 yards after initially opting for a three wood.
“That ended his caddying days,” said Westwood. “But he’s turned out to be a better player than a caddy unfortunately.”
Robert Karlsson made the best move of the afternoon starters to card a two under 70 to progress to six under par alongside compatriot Niclas Fasth (68), with Peter Hanson (69) and Africa Open and Joburg Open winner Charl Schwartzel (69) a further shot off the pace.
Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey sit well placed at four under par, along with Peter Lawrie and Ignacio Garrido.