Justin Rose was still holding the clubhouse lead as the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship drew to a close, but Rory McIlroy missed the cut in a less than ideal start to 2013 for the World Number One.
The 23 year old could not recover from his opening 75 and when he slumped to six over par with four holes of his second round to go McIlroy was not even in the top 100.
There was no way back from there - certainly not when he only parred the next three.
Playing partner and World Number Two Tiger Woods struggled as well before suddenly finding form late in the day with a hat-trick of birdies.
Four bogeys in his first five holes put Woods in danger of joining McIlroy in missing the weekend, but by the time he sank a 20 foot putt on the 448 yard 14th, a 12 footer at the next and an 18 foot effort on the following green he was back up to level par and safely inside the cut mark barring a late collapse.
England's Rose continued to enjoy himself in the desert sun, meanwhile.
The 32 year old, currently fifth in the Official World Golf Ranking, added a 69 to his opening 67 and on eight under par was one ahead of Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, both of whom still had the closing stretch to play.
"I felt like my game definitely sharpened up," Rose said. "When you have perfect distance control you know you are swinging it well.
"I thought it was a decent enough score to keep the momentum going. I was pin-high probably eight times, but kept leaving myself awkward distances and had to keep patient."
A six foot putt at the 475 yard 16th produced his only deviation from par on the back nine and he then converted 15 foot chances on the second and fourth, but in between dropped his only shot after missing the green.
The finish was spectacular, however. An eight iron approach pulled up only a foot from the flag and he said: "I can make those!"
Rose had only Open Champion Ernie Els as his playing partner, defending champion Robert Rock pulling out through illness after a 76.
Els double-bogeyed the third and dropped two other shots, but also had three birdies for a 73 and level par aggregate.
After the round Woods was given a two shot penalty for an incident in the rough at the fifth and that took him from one over to three over and in danger of missing the cut as well.
He was told about the incident - related to an embedded ball - on his 11th hole, but the ruling came in the recorders' hut once he had finished.