Anders Hansen defied strong winds in Fanling to shoot a six under par 64 and take the clubhouse lead midway through the UBS Hong Kong Open second round.
The 42 year old Dane matched Javier Colomo’s first round effort to reach seven under par at Hong Kong Golf Club, and as a result led by two from the Spaniard and his compatriot Miguel Angel Jiménez.
After a bogey-free opening round, Colomo dropped three shots on Friday, but two birdies saw him round in 71 for a five under halfway total. Jiménez was amongst the afternoon starters.
Starting at the 11th Hansen, who was the highest-ranked player without a victory on last year’s Race to Dubai and won the last of his three titles back in 2009, had early birdies at the 12th and 14th.
It was on the way in he did most of his good work, however, as the two-time Wentworth winner birdied the second, third, fifth and tenth.
“I'm very, very pleased with the round,” said Hansen. “It's obviously very tricky out there - it's blowing and the wind is coming from all kind of directions, so it's a little tricky out there. It's difficult to hit the fairways and greens.
“I played well. I played solid from tee-to-green, but you are going to miss a few greens and you are going to miss a few fairways, that's how it is when it's difficult like it is in any conditions. I just managed to keep it together and it was good.
“I had a great year last year - this year has not been too good. I think the game has turned around a little bit since August.
“Over the summer, I had a few good runs at it but just couldn't quite get it together.”
For much of the morning it looked as though the day would belong to Andrew Dodt.
The Australian birdied the third from 15 feet and the eighth from 12 feet to reach seven under as he looks to secure his card for next year.
Needing to climb three places on The Race to Dubai to retain his playing privileges, the former Avantha Masters winner had an expensive finish, dropping five shots in the last five holes, and a 73 left him five back on two under par.
In the battle to secure a place at next week’s lucrative DP World Tour Championship, Ireland’s Peter Lawrie eased the pressure of being in the firing line with a second straight 68.
Currently occupying the 60th and final qualifying position, Lawrie’s round took him into the top ten – and crucially he was two shots ahead of 61st-placed David Howell, who was round in 70.
World Number One and defending champion Rory McIlroy was looking good after four birdies in his first ten holes, but looks unlikely to celebrate his carnation as Race to Dubai champion with victory after dropping six shots in his last seven holes for a 72 that left him battling to make the cut on five over.
Out on the course, however, New Zealand's former US Open Champion Michael Campbell continued his recent revival - from 910th in the Official World Golf Ranking four months ago to 339th - by going to the turn in 30.
A hat-trick of birdies from the seventh lifted Campbell alongside Hansen, while Olazábal and Jiménez were alongside Colomo in third early in their rounds.