Erik van Rooyen is playing just his 24th European Tour event at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters but after a second round 66 is feeling very much at home at Doha Golf Club.
The South African rookie finished third on last season's Challenge Tour to earn his spot and has had no trouble settling in, finishing second at the Joburg Open before Christmas.
He was back in contention again in the Qatari capital, making seven birdies and a bogey to get to ten under and trail leader Adrian Otaegui by just one shot at the halfway stage.
The 28 year old won on both the Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour last season and is enjoying life as he looks for a win on a third circuit.
"The whole experience has been fantastic," he said.
"It's quite a tricky course and my first time here so it's really fun out there. If you don't play within yourself the ball can get away from you so I think I've done a good job the last couple of days sticking to my plan. I keep hitting it in the fairway and rolling in a couple of nice putts.
"It's really special to be here, it's my first time in Qatar and the course is in really good shape. I know I'm ten under but it's playing tough out there if you start missing some shots.
"Mentally I've been really good, I haven't been flustered at all and I'm putting really well so I'm just going to stick with that.
"I'm in a good spot and looking forward to it."
Scot Stephen Gallacher also fired a 66 to get to ten under and the desert specialist believes the conditions will play a big part over the weekend.
"I think it depends on the elements out here," he said. "If it's windy, you break 70 and you've had a good score but if it's flat calm it's going to be like the first day, low scoring. We'll see what the weather's like and just try and be in contention coming down the stretch on Sunday."
Frenchman Grégory Havret stayed bogey-free for the week as he goes in search of a first title since 2008, and the three-time winner is excited to be battling at the top end of the leaderboard.
"So far, so good. Another clean sheet. It's always good to start a tournament like this," he said.
"I managed to not make any blue stuff on my card for two days, that's really helpful, that's probably why I'm just one behind the leader and feel good for the next two rounds.
"I'm very excited, it's always good to find this feeling playing in the last groups. This is what I do a lot of work for, what it's all about. You want to compete."
England's Eddie Pepperell shared the lead with Havret after day one and he also carded a 69 to complete the four-man group one shot off the lead.
"I'm happy with that really," he said. "I played amazing tee to green the first 12 or 13 holes but holed nothing. Then I felt like my swing crept away from me a little at the end and I made the most of the finish so I'll take that, to be honest.
"I missed one green today, didn't miss many fairways and I hit a lot of close shots on the front nine but I went out in one under, which is embarrassing really. I was pretty frustrated. If I'd putted today like I did yesterday I think I'd have shot a lot lower today."
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