Rising Danish star Thorbjørn Olesen took over at the top as Sergio Garcia battled with a shoulder problem again at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Olesen, who will make his Masters Tournament debut in April and two weeks ago was joint runner-up in Abu Dhabi, added a 66 to his opening 67 to stand 11 under par at halfway.
Scot Chris Doak and overnight leader Richard Sterne - yet to resume - were one behind and Garcia only two back after thinking about pulling out.
"On the 14th green I told my caddie if it does not get any better after 18 (his ninth hole) we will probably walk," said the Spanish star, who tied for second in Qatar last Saturday.
"Then unfortunately we started making birdies and eagle and I thought 'What do we do now?'
"I got the physio out and he worked on it. It feels a little bit better, but needs to get better."
The eagle came on the 564 yard 18th and meant Garcia turned in a five under 32, but he failed to get up and down from a bunker on the first and after two-putting the driveable second for birdie parred the remaining seven holes.
It added up to a 67 which left the former World Number Two joint fourth with Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, Frenchman Romain Wattel and Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, another of the later starters.
Olesen resumed with four birdies in a row and picked up further shots on the second and short seventh.
Doak has also yet to drop a stroke and a huge weekend now beckons for the 35 year old, who has made ten trips to the European Tour Qualifying School in his career and has had only one top ten finish on the circuit.
He came through last season's Challenge Tour and sai after his 69: "I'm ecstatic. The breeze is getting up and clubbing is quite tricky."
England's Paul Casey and Lee Westwood, six under and five under overnight respectively, were among the other late starters and so was compatriot Chris Wood, winner of his first European Tour title in Qatar. He stood four under when he teed off again.
Sterne instantly joined Olesen on 11 under, but bogeyed the short fourth and remained one behind after seven.
Casey came back from an opening bogey with three birdies, but three-putted the ninth just as he had on the first day.
He was four back, as was Westwood after birdies at the sixth and long tenth.
Next to move alongside Olesen was England's Tommy Fleetwood, a former Challenge Tour winner who went to the final week before securing his card on The European Tour last season.
The 22 year old covered the back nine first in a two under 35 and then made further birdies at the third and fourth.
Gallacher had back-to-back bogeys for the second day in a row, but birdies on the 17th and 18th brought him to ten under alongside Doak and Sterne.
Fleetwood parred in for a 68 that put him alongside Olesen in the clubhouse lead, while still out on the course Sterne and Gallacher were on the same mark with four and five holes to play respectively.
Westwood had the chance to be right in the thick of things, but instead a poor drive at the 17th led to a double-bogey six and failing to birdie the par five last - despite being just over the green in two - left him with a five stroke deficit.