Paul Lawrie fired a brilliant 66 to set the clubhouse target on day two of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as he seeks to become the first man to win the Mother of Pearl Trophy three times.
The 1999 and 2012 champion expertly tackled the wind on his way to an opening 67 but took advantage of the calmer conditions on Thursday morning to get to 11 under and take a two-shot lead over Grégory Bourdy and Andrew Johnston.
The wind was forecast to pick up once again in the afternoon at Doha Golf Club, so those who managed to post a low score in the morning may well be glad to be in the clubhouse.
While there were plenty of sub-70 scores out there in the morning, nobody could better Lawrie, who made the Ryder Cup team in each of the two seasons he won here previously.
The Scot birdied the tenth, his first, and 12th to get into a share of the lead but dropped a shot on the 15th. He regained it on the driveable 16th and when another birdie followed on the 18th, he held a one-shot lead
The large group behind him refused to let him get away and Bourdy and Branden Grace both shared the lead at one point, with the Frenchman twice pegging Lawrie back after that birdie on the 18th and another gain on the fourth.
But the 47 year old birdied the seventh and, when he put a pin-point approach into the ninth, he moved to 11 under to open up a cushion.
Bourdy made history in his second round as he recorded the first ever hole-in-one at the eighth hole.
The 33 year old had made seven straight pars in the morning as he stood on the tee at the eighth but his ace helped him turn in 34.
It's always nice to get a hole-in-one. It's only my third on Tour but it's good enough, it's great actually - Grégory Bourdy
"I missed a few birdies before the eighth, and then straight in with a six iron, so it was like two birdies straight.
"I had 158 metres to the pin and it's a straight shot into the wind. The wind a little bit left-to-right but into."
He gave a shot back on the tenth but quickly regained it on the 11th and further gains on the 14th and 16th helped him sign for a 68.
Johnston, the top player on the Challenge Tour in 2014, got off to a poor start with a double bogey on the par three third but birdies on the seventh, tenth, 13th, 14th and 16th moved him back up the leaderboard.
Sergio Garcia was the 2014 champion here and, after showing signs of frustration in a 70 on Wednesday, he responded by matching Lawrie with a 66.
The Spaniard birdied the tenth before two further gains on the 14th and 15th were followed by an eagle on the 16th to take him five under for his round through seven holes.
Nine pars followed before a monster putt on the eighth prompted a dancing celebration and got him to eight under alongside Pelle Edberg and Thorbjørn Olesen.
The Dane bogeyed the third for the second day in a row but rescued a 69 by coming home in 32 thanks to birdies on the tenth, 11th, 16th and 17th.
Edberg started on the tenth and had a wild first nine with an eagle, four birdies and a bogey. He dropped another shot on the third but regained it on the next and also birdied the seventh for a 66.
Clarke Lutton, the Dubai-based Scot, had two birdies and an eagle on the 16th in his first seven holes to also get to eight under.
Defending champion Grace had shared the lead with birdies at the tenth, 14th, 18th and first added to an eagle at the 16th. A double bogey after seeing his second shot bounce back behind him on the third then stalled his progress, before he closed with a birdie on the ninth.
Joost Luiten has two top fives so far this season and he fired a flawless 67 to also sit at seven under alongside Brett Rumford, who shot a 69, and Jens Fahrbring, who carded a 68.
Overnight leaders Louis Oosthuizen and Pablo Larrazábal were level par for their rounds at seven under with George Coetzee and Nicolas Colsaerts both moving into that group with early gains.