Pablo Larrazábal recorded a level par round of 71 in devilishly difficult conditions to open up a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Real Club Valderrama Open de España, Hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.
After 15 players broke par in perfect, benign conditions on day one, the wind played its part in the second round, with only Peter Hanson and Mike Lorenzo-Vera able to get round in 70 as Valderrama showed just why it is regarded as one of the ultimate tests in world golf.
That made the round of home favourite Larrazábal all the more impressive as he stayed at three under and held off the challenge of England's Andrew Johnston.
Defending champion James Morrison, Alejandro Cañizares and first round leader Alexander Levy were then at level par, with Pep Angles, Richard Bland, Craig Lee and Lorenzo-Vera a further shot back.
Larrazábal came into Friday two shots behind Levy but got to seven under after ten holes to open up a two-shot lead.
A bogey on the second and bunker trouble on the third dropped him back to his starting position, but that was enough to give the four-time European Tour winner the advantage heading into the weekend.
"To shoot level in these conditions is a great feeling and to have a chance on the last to go into the red figures is something really special," he said.
"I said to my playing partners that I only missed one shot today really bad, and I made triple-bogey. I made so many great saves – like the 17th, the putt I made from the back of there was great.
"I didn't play my best golf, but on another golf course I would have gone six, seven under par because of the way I fought, so I'm very pleased.
If the wind blows like this a level par or more total will win this. If I shoot level par over the weekend I will be in the fight - Pablo Larrazábal
As the vast bulk of the field struggled, Larrazábal looked like he was playing a different course in the early stages, making birdies on the 11th, 12th, 17th and first.
An errant tee-shot on the second led to a bogey and, after taking two attempts to get out of a bunker and three putts on the par three next, an impressive recovery saw the Spaniard par his way home.
Johnston had held the lead following birdies on the tenth and second but eventually signed for a 74 with three birdies, three bogeys and a double on the third.
Englishman Morrison and Spaniard Cañizares both signed for rounds of 75 in the morning, which became increasngly valuable as the day went on, while Frenchman Levy recovered well from five bogeys in his first eight holes to record a 76.
Young Spaniard Angles was one of just four players to get round in level par 71, with Englishman Bland and Scot Lee both recording rounds of 72.
Two-time Major Championship winner Martin Kaymer was then at two over alongside France's Grégory Bourdy, England's Ross Fisher and another home favourite in Jordi Garcia Pinto.
Finn Roope Kakko recorded the 18th hole-in-one in Open de España history when he holed a seven iron from 200 yards on the 12th.